‘Our Carnal Hearts’ (An Tobar & Mull Theatre and Arch 468) | Review By Rhona Williams 

Our Carnal Hearts (dir. Rebecca Atkinson-Lord) written by Rachel Mars was an interesting expression of jealousy, envy and humanistic attitudes towards those closest to us in the real world. The play took the form of spoken word poetry whilst relying on the harmonies of a splendid mystical trio. 

The play started by engulfing the audience into a world that was alternative to our own, with the actors taking up audience space and sitting amongst them in cloaks and pagan wear. We were immediately taken into the world of the action by being seated all around the performance area, and having cast members sitting within the audience space. The space was small yet engrossing so that the audience could pay attention to what was being recited whilst also enjoying the sensory visuals. It’s often beautiful to watch a simplistic play so that the words truly come to life. 

The majority of the performance encompassed the words of Rachel Mars who was clearly embodying a world of contemporary and political theatre. Our Carnal Hearts tactfully allowed the audience to enjoy a world of satire and comedy through Mars’ writing. However, at times the prose felt disjointed, and the comedy didn’t always pack the punch that it could have, but the message of envy portrayed throughout by the hilarious points of audience participation. There were sheer points of hilarity when we heard audience members tell their truths that we were often thinking ourselves in secret.  

Kasey Christian played the main character throughout the piece, who often spoke to the audience and took them on a journey of envy and self-loathing but through a satire stance. Her northern accent was extremely warming and took us Scots minimal time to get used to and enjoy. She was extremely likeable and relatable, but often the worlds that she was speaking were lost in the manic harmonies projected by the choir members. At points there were extremely memorable lines, and fundamental statements brought to the prose of this piece, yet it felt as though the impact didn’t puncture the audience in the vast way that it could have. 

I have to admit that the choir members (Swan, Milne-Wilson and Buyers) who supported Christian were fantastically strong in portraying a mystical /silly mood and they were brilliant in serving their purpose but controversially were not utilised to their capable extent. The talent in the performance was fabulous, yet I think that their performances could have been elevated with more of a coherent direction.  

With all of this in mind, the production was sound and good entertainment for an evening at the theatre. Those interested in understanding more about the contemporary human psyche and looking for a laugh alongside this should definitely endeavour to enjoy this performance. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Playing Mull Theatre, Wednesday 13th April, get tickets here.

Playing Moat Brae Dumfries, Wednesday 27th April, get tickets here.

Playing Byre Theatre St Andrews, Thursday 28th April, get tickets here.

Playing Dunoon Burgh Hall, Friday 29th April, get tickets here.

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