David Schulner’s An Infinite Ache is a play that refuses to back down from a challenge; it not only attempts to effectively discuss ideas about love, marriage, relationships, death and family, but also tracks the character’s lives over several decades. It opens on Charlie and Hope’s comically awkward first date. While Hope lies down and tries to cure a headache, Charlie visualises their relationship up until their deaths. While it is fraught with complications, separations, and tragedies, there are also high points of marriage, love and family. All this in less than two hours.
While there were certain aspects of the script itself that weren’t my cup of tea, Rebecca Doyle Dorado’s production was a successful take on the material. A great deal of thought and effort had clearly gone into the production, and, aside from a few exceptions, the various different elements of the play worked well together.
The props and the scenery were very well used, and became an important way of conveying the passage of time. There were a few confusing choices, (why did Hope have moisturizer in Charles’ drawer on their first date? If she is leaving, why does it look like she is unpacking?) but on the whole they both enhanced the production. Although the use of lighting was fairly minimal, when it was used, it was used effectively. While there were a few points where the sound was too loud, the music was well chosen, and overall the sound was used conscientiously. The costuming in this play must have been a challenge, as both characters had to wear the same clothes for the entire performance, in spite of the range of situations and ages that were portrayed. Given these complications, the costumes were well chosen, particularly for Charles.
Both of the actors gave commendable performances; the material required both actors to show a great deal of range, which they both did. Michael David McKernan (Charlie) gave a hilarious performance, particularly in the opening scene, but also showed a great deal of emotion and depth at the more sombre points in the play. Mollie Molumby gave an excellent performance, especially considering that, as her character was the more emotionally expressive of the two, there were certain points in the script that, if done poorly, could have been quite melodramatic.
On the whole, An Infinite Ache is a thoughtful production, and, in spite of a few weaknesses, has a great deal of charm.