Truth is open to interpretation and the past becomes a mouldable state of mind in Pedro Miguel Rozo’s striking and disturbing Columbian set drama Our Private Life.
Bipolar fantasist Carlos exists in a world of anxiety, disappointment and despair. Dosed up on lithium and his naively optimistic mother’s love, Carlos spends his days trying to pinpoint the cause of his sexuality and making up flights of fancy in his mind. But when a rumour suggesting his father may have abused a young boy makes its way around the village, a wrath of unwanted memories surface for Carlos.
Set in a small community in the midst of development, the play’s characters are all in an uncomfortable flux of change. With oldest son Sergio the manager of a new shopping centre, their sparky mother – who regularly declares herself to be a modern woman – is desperate to keep up with the Joneses and embrace 21st century living and all its conveniences, while her sullen husband just wants to head back to the country and bury his head in the sand.
A black-as-the-night comedy, Our Private Life is not for the faint hearted. Easy comedy centred around Colin Morgan’s fidgety, obsessive portrayal of Carlos makes way for dark homophobic slurs and despicable manipulation. The presence of a money-grabbing, immoral psychiatrist proves darker still as each character in turn arrives at his office for their diagnosis.
Directed by Lyndsey Turner, much of the action takes place in a colourful kitchen that looks straight out of a 1960s daytime soap, but the ghostly lighting and hissing whispers punctuating each scene change break any illusions of pleasantness the set may imply.
Breaking the fourth wall, Rozo complicates the narrative by blurring the lines between thought and speech. As characters share private thoughts with the audience, the rest of the family can always hear, even if the – and sometimes the audience themselves – wish they could not.
Playing a game of ping-pong with the truth, you never quite know where Our Private Life will lead. But in an emotionally violent final scene, Rozo allows the audience an unsettling, but crystal clear conclusion.