Transgression, Life in the Aftermath of the Eocene

White Bear Theatre, London
Until January 27

Cast: Bruce Allinson, Alexandra Etudor, Zara Hadeshian, Jonathan Hansler, Abigail Moore
Director: Bryan Oliver
Produced by Carnyx Production
Writer: Loretta Monaco
Running Time: 90 minutes including interval


The Eocene lasted from about 55.8 million to 33.9 million years ago, which has left a lot to happen in the aftermath.

By the 1990s of “Transgression”, humanity is being perpetuated by fleeting moments of sexual attraction that give way to years of cruelty.  Any child who is not aborted or still born may grow up to be told by their mother they should never have existed.

It could be bleakly, satirically funny and may draw out cynical laughter in a different time and place.

But in south London, audience engagement was most palpable when Jonathan Hansler as the luckless, cheating, betrayed Tom improvised as a passing police car interrupted the proceedings.

“Close your eyes, imagine… don’t worry about the police car,” he said as the siren blared in the road outside.  He was so convincingly in drama therapy coach mode, most of us really had closed our eyes and wanted to carry on therapeutically imagining.

Instead, we were jolted back to the world of his abandoned, cheating, cleverer-than-he-is wife Hannah (Abigail Moore), also a therapist, their archaeologist son Graham (Bruce Allinson) and femme fatale Addie (Alexandra Etudor), by her own admission not fully formed, but still desperate to form new life and continue the cycle of digging emotional deep holes.

To drive home the message that everyone is either in or should be in therapy with still no guarantee of a functioning relationship, Hannah’s therapy client Helen (Zara Hadeshian) is failing to overcome her guilt over a teenage transgression that got her pregnant.

Directed by Bryan Oliver, the acting is polished, with particular attention to the dejected body language of Hansler‘s Tom and the studied poise of Moore as Hannah.

For me, the difficulty was a struggle to believe any of them would have fallen for each other.  Addie’s conclusion the best plan is to leave the capital’s elite to wallow in their neuroses and head to the provinces is compelling.

Barbara Lewis © 2024.