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Couple Bare All in Bathroom, Brutal Beckett: London Stage

Keir Charles and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as David and Marian in
Keir Charles and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as David and Marian in "Mydidae" at Trafalgar Studios. The story, written by Jack Thorne, is a vignette about relationships. Photographer: Simon Annand/Chloe Nelkin via Bloomberg

March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Marian and David are sharing their lives, their thoughts, a bottle of wine and a bath.

They strip and jump into the steamy water, where they laugh, squabble and fight.

They’re the protagonists in “Mydidae,” a new play by Bafta-award winning writer Jack Thorne.

He was commissioned by the DryWrite theater company to write a piece set in the most private of rooms.

Nudity is central to the plot. In the tiny Trafalgar Studios 2, the actors are a couple of feet away from the audience. Even so, souls are bared more than bodies in this spiky vignette about relationships.

Vicky Jones’s clever direction means that the audience is more engrossed in the developing tension. Meanwhile, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Keir Charles disrobe, with careful use of towels, bubble bath and lighting to keep it tasteful.

At first, it seems like their story is common to many couples. Then it becomes clear there’s something more disturbing going on: It’s the anniversary of a personal tragedy.

David is feeling pressured at work; Marian is feeling pressured by him.

She’s bright and clever, with a range of knowing looks that suggest that we have only begun to understand her complexities.

David is a simpler being of fewer words, which he sometimes struggles to find until his frustration explodes into anger.

Later, they make their peace, which means much of the drama has fizzled out before the 70 minutes is up. Rating: ***.

Beckett’s ‘Watt’

The most undressing Barry McGovern does in his show at the Barbican’s Pit is to take off his jacket, which he promptly puts back on. Then he does it again, and again, finally adding a hat and coat, all the time murmuring poetry by Samuel Beckett like a spell.

“Not a word, not a deed,” he says, “not a thought, not a need, not a grief, not a joy, not a girl, not a boy.”

Originally for the Gate Theatre, Dublin, McGovern has woven words from the Nobel prize winner’s novel “Watt” into a 50-minute monologue. The book’s got a reputation almost as fearsome as James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake.” Here, in this small dark venue, it’s so hypnotic that it could go on for much longer.

McGovern, looking like a forlorn waiter, performs a disjointed ballet dance before talking of life’s brutality and beauty.

Watt (or is it “What”) works for Mr. Knott (or is it “Not”). He lingers over the Irish puns before he can finally take no more and wanders off to the station to escape.

He asks for a ticket to the end of the line. Asked which end, he thinks and deadpans, “the further end.” It’s a remark worthy of “Waiting for Godot.” Rating: ****.

“Mydidae” is at Trafalgar Studios 2, 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY through March 30. Information: +44-844-871-7627 or http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/mydidae/trafalgar-studios/.

“Watt” is at the Pit, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8BS, until March 16. Information: +44-7638-8891, http://www.barbican.org.uk/theatre/event-detail.asp?ID=14065

What the Stars Mean:
 *****      Exceptional
 ****       Excellent
 ***        Good
 **         Average
 *          Mediocre
(No stars) Poor

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on arts and Richard Vines on food.

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net or http://twitter.com/Mark_Beech.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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