The Fragility Of X
Blurring the boundaries of behaviour
This article is from 2010.
You could be forgiven for assuming that a play about the relationship between a single mother and her autistic teenage son would be very worthy and pretty heavy going. The Fragility of X is those things (in a good way), but it’s also incredibly funny and enormously moving, and the humour, which switches from slapstick to blackly comic, is absolutely revelatory. It’s also key to getting a handle on the nature of the relationship between the loving but exhausted mother and her doting but exhausting son.
Written and devised by the performer-led Manchester company Coal, under the direction of Told By An Idiot’s John Wright, the play unfolds over the course of a single evening. From the moment the boy gets in from school the house becomes a bewildering whirl of shouting, screaming, stamping and fighting. Initially, mum deals with his frantic behaviour, but by the end of the night she’s run ragged and driven to her wits’ end. Here, the definition of normal and abnormal behaviour becomes blurred, which is what raises this well-performed show above the usual issue-led fare.
Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 29 Aug, 4.10pm, £6.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).