We’ve all read those articles where someone falls victim to the charms of a manipulative psycho and we’re left questioning – ‘why didn’t they just get up and leave?’. Spiderfly points its audience to exactly why this is easier said than done.
Esther (Lia Burge) is a couples counselor and is barely holding it together. She’s the kind of person who practices smiling for two minutes at a time in the hope that the act of smiling, regardless of how you feel inside, will trick you into feeling happy. During a series of conversations Esther has with her former lover, Keith (Matt Whitchurch), we witness how her desire for Keith mixed with her disgust of him has created this confusing inner turmoil.
Keith (Matt Whitchurch), a former cab driver, is as creepy and egotistical as they come. He’s got a therapist but hasn’t quite grasped how therapy is meant to work yet, complaining about why he has to do all the talking. Chris (also performed by Matt Whitcurch) is the new man in Esther’s life, but he’s a bit clueless when it comes to dating.
Why would someone continue to meet their former lover whilst dating someone new you may ask? Well. It becomes evident that Keith has an indescribable hold on Esther, where she is compelled to visit him against her better judgment. As the play unfolds, further complexities are revealed in this relationship. Is Esther caught in Keith’s web or is it vice versa?
John Webber has written an impressive debut play. The bricks which make up its foundations aren’t laid out neatly for us at the start to see. Rather, it’s for the audience to piece together what fits where exactly and how have our characters found themselves boxed into the positions that they are in?
Spiderfly is pitched as a taut thriller and there’s certainly some scenes with heightened tension when the play builds towards its chilling finale. Lizzy Leech has designed an errie set which effectively frames the mostly fraught conversations in the show. What’s also intriguing about the play, is its frank observations of the modern dating landscape. We see how imperfect getting to know someone in the world of online dating can be and also how people are drawn to one another and form significant connections based on fairly limited information. Spiderfly is an absorbing experience which should leave you feeling a little spooked by the end.
Spiderfly is running at Theatre503 until 30 November at the time of writing. https://theatre503.com/whats-on/spiderfly/
Photo credit: Josh McClure