The Cord

The kettle is on and a storm is brewing in the teacup of their lives, but will the stirring winds blow them apart, or can they find a cord to keep them bound together? This naturally expressive new production from acclaimed writer and director Bijan Sheibani offers an honest insight into the challenging truths of family dynamics.

Ash (Irfan Shamji) has spent the first two weeks of his son's life trying to work out where he fits. He watches as his mother (Lucy Black) holds her grandchild for the first time. He watches as his wife (Eileen O’Higgins) feeds their son, creating a bond so close it's almost unfathomable. And he watches himself slip away into sleepless nights, fits of rage, and a deep uncertainty where he fits into it all. 

Following his success in Till The Stars Come Down at The National Theatre, Sheibani has reunited with his fabulous creative team to bring this new story to the stage. With high praise for all the cast and crew, a special mention must be given to Colin Alexander’s compositions which run so smoothly you barely realise they are playing in real time until you look over and see the cellist live. 

Running at an hour and twenty minutes without an interval, this play is just playful enough to keep the audience invested, while remaining a slow and steady burn. There is little excitement, but plenty of emotion, which stems from all elements of the show.

The most notable of these being the beautifully unremarkable lighting design by Oliver Fenwick, facilitated predominantly by the skylight-esque glow from the ceiling. This addition opens the auditorium to the outside world in which the characters live, and invites us to be a fly on the wall of their day to day. 

Although we follow two different families, joined by one married couple, there are only three actors on stage and never all at the same time. The script is devised more as a collection of duologues centred around the protagonist and so the scenes remain divided. While this is a clever artistic decision, it does create a slightly sluggish atmosphere at times which is unaided by the neutrality of Samal Blak’s designs. Both the set and costume are hyper realistic, non-fictional, and ultimately uninteresting - but this seems almost intentional.

You have until the 25th May to catch The Cord at The Bush Theatre, and it's definitely one to watch if you're interested in real stories more so than flashy, profound productions.  

This show was reviewed on the 18th April 2024.  Tickets available here: The Cord | Bush Theatre

Review written by Katie McConnell


Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

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