Amygdala review

by Stewart Pringle

Amygdala

★★★

Actress Geraldine Alexander’s first play examines the synapses of an age gap, as buttoned-up lawyer Catherine loses her sense of self and eventually her mind in a relationship with a smooth-talking young musician. The amygdalae are areas of the brain that oversee emotion and memory, so think of them as a 21st century version of the heart, probed here by somewhat unlikely psychiatrist Simon after Catherine’s illicit squeeze is arrested for a terrible crime.

‘Amygdala’ feels weighed down by the familiar. The psychiatrist/ interview structure feels dated and casts an ominous pall over everything, smearing out the colour and detail with a patina of gloom and inevitability. The contrast between prim middle-aged Catherine and sensual, vital Joshua falls victim to cliché, despite strong performances from Hermione Gulliford and Alex Lanipekun.

But set against its flaws, ‘Amygdala’ contains some forceful, bone-shaking writing. Alexander (who also directs) keeps her powder dry until the final moments, and when she finally unleashes hell, it packs quite a wallop. Gulliford excels in those tense scenes, and Fran Reidy’s elongated, claustrophobic design makes the Print Room feel like an autoclave.

Written for Time Out

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