Breathing Corpses (3 stars)

This article is from 2012

Breathing Corpses

Promising exploration of death from Exeter University Theatre Company

In La Ronde, Arthur Schnitzler sets up a Newton’s cradle of sexual relationships: one person sleeps with another, who sleeps with another and so on. Laura Wade’s 2005 play, first seen at the Royal Court, charts a similar chain reaction, only of death instead of sex.

Not for the first time, hotel chambermaid Amy happens on a dead body during her rounds. The suicide is Jim who had been traumatized by a similar discovery of a woman slowly decomposing in a self-storage unit. Sure enough, just before her death, Kate had found a corpse while walking her dog – and it was dressed oddly like Amy.

Wade shuffles the scenes, but can’t disguise their obvious causal ties, and the play really comes alive in its last scene, which raises the possibility of a Mobius strip.

Daisy Rodger and Flora Marston’s rough-and-ready student production is a decent account and handles Wade’s careful ambiguity neatly. Two particularly promising performances: Sam Rix disintegrates tenderly as Jim and, as his wife, Chloe Young is a complex blend of heartfelt sympathy and gritted frustration.

Breathing Corpses by Laura Wade

  • 3 stars

When a man has lost all happiness, he’s not alive. Call him a breathing corpse’ (Sophocles). The discovery of a body unwittingly interlinks three separate plotlines - Amy, a hotel cleaner, Jim and Elaine who run a self-storage business, and Ben and Kate, a rowing couple, on a hot summer’s day. Under such strain, the…

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