Janice Dunn’s feminine – it borders on the feminist – version of the old morality play Everyman is a peripatetic affair. It begins and ends outside the Mercury Theatre (thank heaven that the rain had blown over on the English opening night) but Eve (Claire Humphrey)’s journey through life also takes in the studio theatre, the foyer, the bar and a wander backstage.
This Eve is a thoroughly 21st century lass, widely travelled, addicted to her iPhone and MacBook with the (very) occasional purchase of The Big Issue and donation to the homeless basically making up the sum of her good deeds. As a life goes, it’s not the most brilliant of portfolios when God – a somewhat macabre female deity in this context – demands a reckoning.
Everyman is a story which crops up in various forms right across Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries and has perhaps its last incarnation in this country with Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Dunn’s production with its multinational cast – the other players are Sanja Arsovska, Aleksandra Gronowska, Maria Lohmann, Iva Ogbiamova and Emanuela Pisicchio – uses movemnt and song to emphasise the universality of the story. The dialpgue is mostly in English.
The Mercury’s wardrobe has been raided to some effect to produce the costumes, providing a sort of timeless tatter effect which is entirely appropriate. Eve Ryman would work equally well as a more straightforward studio theatre promenade performance. After its Colchester run it will be seem in Skopje (Macedonia), Pozardzhik (Bulgaria), Lucca (Italy) and Legnica (Poland).