Theatre review: Ménage à Trois, Traverse Theatre

Claire Cunningham in M�nage � Trois

Claire Cunningham in M�nage � Trois

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EVER had the desire to step into the world of the hero whose story you’re following and give some unsolicited advice?

Ménage à Trois

Traverse

Star rating: * * * *

Ask Othello to get some marriage counselling rather than listening to his dodgy pal, make Cyrano De Bergerac tell his love the truth 20 years earlier, or tell Sharon Watts that just because her Dad was a bad boy, it doesn’t mean she has to go out with bad boys herself.

It’s the same with Claire Cunningham, you want to take her aside and give her a cuppa and suggest that maybe the issue isn’t her disability, it’s the fact she needs a life coach for the low-self esteem, an online dating account and to tear up the list of requirements for the “perfect” man.

Frankly, love, in this day and age, you’re going to be hard pushed to find a man willing to give up his 40-inch HD TV for anything, especially a girl with romantic notions of afternoons spent doing arty things with newspapers when the Formula One is on.

But then, that is part of Cunningham’s pithy, drily witty point.

Perhaps she has been using the obvious signs of her disability, her crutches, as an excuse not to make connections with potential mates.

Ménage à Trois is a very personal journey taken by Cunningham as she dissects her relationship with the two metal poles that are always by her side.

Building a man with them, she at once embraces them and rejects them as the barrier between her and the rest of the world.

Beautifully depicted and visually arresting, Cunningham voices the feelings of many people with obvious disabilities – a sense of isolation, a need to be desired and to connect.

Feelings that “normal”, able bodied people will recognise in themselves all too well.

Co-director and video designer Gail Sneddon’s contribution is equally thought provoking and mesmerising, the company’s use of lighting and visual technology at once complex and deceptively simple.

Cunningham and Sneddon work brilliantly well together to express a universal experience that is accessible to both able and disabled audience members, if only Cunningham’s dancer could accept that it is our imperfections that make us lovable rather than the perfect being we aspire to be.

JOSIE BALFOUR