Image: White Bear Theatre
Felicity Jolly - Terri
Stephen Riddle - Ross
Anna Tymoshenko - Kate
Sure, you love women.
You love them when they're flawless.
You love them when they're silent.
You love them through a lens.
It's just a pain when we actually turn out real ...
Ross used to take photos of women.
He says it was about beauty.
Now Kate's back in his studio after twenty years.
She remembers things differently.
She says she's there for justice.
With one click anything becomes an image, and image is everything.
What happens when fantasy becomes more real than flesh?
Kevin Mandry returns to the White Bear after Flowers in the Field ("Simply and beautifully written." A Younger Theatre).
Set in the 1990s, at the dawn of the internet.
An urgent topical drama about the female body, consent and agency.
In the days of Greek mythology, Eros was the god of attraction and a member of the winged love gods called Erotes.
So, given the title and that snippet of mythological information, you may well deduce that this drama has something to do with love and attraction.
And it does seem to, though just what we're really meant to understand from what is a confusing and confused piece might well be a matter for the gods to unravel than mere theatre-going mortals.
The programme notes do little to clarify the direction of travel - highlighting fantasy, the opening-up the Soviet Bloc countries, capitalism and disappointment among many conceptual points.
Eros returns us to the infant days of the internet in the 1990s.
It's set in a disorganised-looking studio with one of those rolls of white paper against which models are photographed, a selection of old computers, clunky keyboards and the compulsory crate of cables that was often to be found in offices of the time.
The studio belongs to Ross who has been a successful photographer in the past, but now finds himself down on his luck and barely scrapes a living producing business brochures - which is little wonder judging by the mediocre samples we get glimpses of.
Ross has an assistant called Terri, an unpaid dogsbody who seems to survive on almost nothing, and lives in what appears to be little more than a broom cupboard.
Ross is negotiating a deal to sell his studio and buy a house on a hill, overlooking a beach, which seems to have some significance for him.
Then old flame Kate fetches up, years after last seeing Ross.
At first she seems bent on justice for one of Ross's young models who has recently committed self-harm and is now seriously ill in hospital.
But as the painfully long and disjointed conversation between Ross and Kate progresses, we find her offering Ross money, a home and the possibility of romantic love.
Even given that Kate is lonely, I couldn't help wondering why she would make Ross any offer given that he is almost completely uncharismatic, lacking in even a glimmer of charm and boringly ordinary almost to an excruciating degree.
The play is bookended by recitations from the female characters which do little to clarify the playwright's overall intentions and seem merely faux devices to introduce and extinguish the piece.
However, Kate eventually tells us that Ross shoots pornographic photographs of girls and was obsessed in his earlier career with a young model - the one now swathed in bandages in hospital.
Ross, though, doesn't seem like an obsessive - rather he's just a middle-aged man shambling through life on a wing and a prayer.
Of course, we condemn Ross for his involvement in pornography and the exploitation of young girls, but his activities in this arena seem incidental in the overall schema rather than being the obvious focus of the plot.
The dialogue is largely bland, drawn-out over an excessive running time and suggesting the need for a considerable prune which would also enable the drama to be refocused, clarifying its overall objectives in the process.
As it is, it's bewilderingly hollow.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for White Bear Theatre
Our show listing for Eros
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