Gabriel Humphreys

No, it wasn’t by accident that the creative team of Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? left the roles in their show unassigned until the penultimate moments before curtain up: in this production, who plays who is boldly decided by coin flip just before action commences. Though seemingly dangerously impromptu, the results are first-rate, the two leading actors fitting their roles with prowess, presenting an impressive interpretation of a relentless political narrative.

Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, on the exterior, illustrates an abusive relationship: Guy has just left his wife and children to be with Sam, a heartless and self-absorbed beau. Farther below the surface emerges a political allegory, a focused foray into foreign policy and imperialist powers: Guy and Sam present dually as a manifestation of the UK and the US as lovers, perhaps Bush and Blair once, now, more nationalistic ideals come to life in human form. Playwright Caryl Churchill takes no prisoners: depicted clearly is dangerously submissive UK, powerless against, yet enraptured by, the corrupt, selfish whims of the US. Created is a sort of toxic love song, with grating, malicious politics woven into poetics, which through its darkness is often funny, if bitterly so.

Though first crafted over ten years ago in a different political landscape, many ideas still ring hauntingly true. In the final act, Guy and Sam argue over the validity of global warming: Guy fruitlessly spits out a laundry list of problems-- “ice caps”, “floods”, and “hurricanes”-- each disputed by Sam with “who fucking cares about”, “we'll all be dead by the time” or “natural”, even going as far to label carbon as “junk science”.

Churchill, known for her eclectic yet electric repertoire including Top Girls and Cloud Nine, conjures another semi-fantastical, semi-commentative great in this brisk 45-minute play. Churchill creates a new sort of dramatic language, one forged out of unceasing, yet fractured pieces of dialogue, every sentence left half-finished and overlapping, all puzzled together through audience speculation and entrancement.

The blanket of dialogue, unrelenting and unpunctuated, is brought to life through the superb cadence and characterization work by two leading actors, Toby Waterworth and Henry Eaton-Mercer, directed by Maya Yousif.

Compellingly, neither actor has been cast singularly as Guy or Sam. To determine who plays who in this two-hander, a coin is flipped two hours before show time, the act posted via video on Facebook. This courageous choice was executed with almost too much ease: for the opening night performance, Eaton-Mercer was designated Sam, and Waterworth, Guy, each role seemingly fit with precision, naturally and comfortably undertaken.

Though assumedly the flip was performed in advance for the sake of mental preparation and diluted pressure, one still can’t help but have yearned for it to have taken place atop the stage, for true audacious spontaneity. Done away from an audience, the act seemed a bit contrived.


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Eaton-Mercer as Sam (or rather, the United States) oozed power and a suave callousness, a fully imperious presence (despite an infrequently shaky American accent). Dually aggressive and methodical, he lurked around the stage with ominous energy, whether he be directing Guy to bomb countless countries, or disinterestedly workshopping torture methods.

Waterworth’s Guy (personifying Britain) was physically softer, yet easily persuaded to acquiesce to Sam’s darker inclinations. Waterworth effortlessly performed this back and forth, buoying between a confident figure of reason and conscience, to quickly submissive, eclipsed and entranced by his counterpart.

While the constant drinking of the characters partially informed the titular “drunk”, the staggering magnetism of each character to the other fully exemplified this toxicity. Their chemistry was entirely palpable, each drunk on the other through moments of excited fervour, pointed anger, or temperate emotion.

With the clear skill of each actor displayed, it can easily be assumed that casting would have been equally apt reversed. Certainly, a switch would provide entrancing new forays into each of the two characters, their foundations the same, interpretations, as Churchill's fragmented text allows, shifted and differently explored.

Altogether, this run allows for possibility and dynamism: a chance for the showcase of two excellent actors in whichever role one might find them in, and a congested, deeply captivating and expertly performed political narrative, pressurized up to the point of explosion.

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