Image: Lonesome Schoolboy Productions
Cast and creatives
A tale of Love, Grief and Turkey Basting.
You're beautiful and manipulative but it won't last."
Madeline wants a baby, so a baby she will have.
It doesn't matter that she is in a relationship with a woman, or that they can't afford the high private clinic fees, she'll go about getting this child whichever way she can.
Together with her partner, the selfless, kind, stable Toni the two women explore all the options available to them but when Madeline gets excited about one possibility in particular alarm bells are raised for Toni.
Across London a lonely, not quite yet 'old' older man is attempting to finish his novel (who is he kidding, start his novel) that he's been working on for fifteen years.
Michael has had children, three of them.
His girls grew up and had children of their own, his son Ben never did, Ben's death causing a pain in Michael that would dull but never subside.
When Madeline, like a whirlwind, arrives back in Michael's life after twelve years she comes with her own solution to the grief they both feel, not that she will let him know.
Now the Nuclear Family is no longer considered the norm, how far can Madeline go to get the baby she so desires?
And does it really matter who she has this baby with?
People are manipulated, games are played and hearts ultimately shattered in this tale of one woman's longing for a child.
On the face of it, given the detailed synopsis for this short three-hander, this is a 'tale of one woman's longing for a child'.
And that certainly figures fairly prominently in some motivational aspects of the central character, Peyvand Sadeghian's "beautiful but manipulative" Madeline.
However, there's actually much more to this debut play from Frankie Meredith than simply a woman's desire to have a baby.
What you don't get from the synopsis is the nature of the sexual interactions between the characters - and another character, Ben, who we only hear about but never meet.
At the beginning, Madeline is in a heterosexual relationship with Ben, but has sex one night with the openly gay Toni.
When Ben dies, Madeline and Toni move in together and it's only much later on that she shows an inclination to have a child and in her efforts to do so, when other ideas don't pan out, she decides (without telling Toni) to have sex with Ben's father, Michael.
Now that's how we get into the realms of conception.
But betrayal and questionable morality lurk barely beneath the surface of much of this play.
Madeline betrays Ben and Toni, but both Toni and Michael at different times have sex with Madeline in the full knowledge that she is in a relationship with someone else.
The question is, then, how much is this play about a woman desperate to have a child, and how much is it a play that examines morality in the arena of sexual relationships?
Or is the latter theme simply a side-issue?
Actually, given the structure of the piece and the betrayals we hear of, I don't think it can be.
And, indeed, the play's final comment about "getting what you want" suggests it isn't, because it could apply to all three characters and not just Madeline.
Now time here is compressed substantially, stretching over a period of 12 or more years, and we don't get to hear much about Madeline's exploits during the time she is in a relationship with Toni.
But her later involvement with Michael indicates she might have had other sexual encounters outside her relationship with Toni, because her morality seems to be based on convenient opportunity.
Furthermore, there's another aspect to Madeline's persona - though her intention seems to be that she wants sex with Michael in order to conceive, she also seems drawn to him on some other level too, possibly in terms of his connection with her former partner, Ben, but perhaps also because of her own sexual ambiguity.
Loud, almost frantic music heralds the start of this play suggesting something akin to impending chaos, and though that materialises in a way, it seems a touch overdone.
Similarly, much greenery (branches with foliage) hangs from the ceiling, highlighting conception and fertility, perhaps, rather than reflecting the more provocative moral questions the play ably serves-up.
But Niall Phillips's pacy and well-timed direction draws-out highly watchable performances from all the cast, and there are nice touches of humour peppering the well-written and convincing dialogue.
Turkey is actually a more complex and issue-rich play than the synopsis signals, presenting challenging moral questions for us to deliberate and thus providing a stimulating evening's theatre.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Hope Theatre
Our show listing for Turkey
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