When James (Scott Arthur) moves to Aberdeen and starts living with his landlord Ryan (Laurie Jamieson), he finds himself in front of a man who ticks every box of the petulant flatmate cliché. James is a young rigger who has left his ex-girlfriend Steph (Rose Wardlaw) and his two-year old daughter Dyl in England, but struggles to cope with the distance. He's withdrawn, depressed and hunted by the ghosts of his past wrongdoings. Things seem to change when Ryan invites James to spend an evening with some mates – which is devised by director Clive Judd with the stereotypical imagery of strobe-lights, heavy drinking and friend-snogging episodes to regret the day after. Following this night out, James starts opening up to his live-in landlord and Ryan – also calling into play James' mother Wendy (Joyce Greenaway) – realises that he could do something to help his tenant.
The main issue with Dyl is that the plot and the acting are too bland and too reminiscent of an early-evening TV-drama to be memorable. Subjects like closeted homosexuality, domestic violence, parental conflict, first love and motherhood are rattled off without proper development and, therefore, fail to impress. Described as a 'sad comedy', this play doesn't contain enough funny moments to keep the audience entertained, nor an original dramatic input to become thought-provoking.
Jemima Robinson's perfectly functional set recalls in many ways James' depleting employment. The shiny floor seems to be made of black oil and the same liquid matter leaks down the walls of Ryan's living room – where all the scenes are played out. Lighting designer Will Monks relies on the obsessive role played by the colour yellow to choose the tone of the floodlights, whereas Giles Thomas' musical choice is one of the highlights of this otherwise unremarkable piece.
Rose Wardlaw's short appearance shines amongst the cast, despite maintaining her commitment to the script, her lines are genuine and heartfelt. A lack of facial expression and the stereotypical body language affects the credibility of Scott Arthur as a troubled young man who chooses to shut the world out.
Dyl touches the always actual topic of the hard life far from the loved ones, but does it with poor imagination, a lack of relevant perspectives, diluted dialogues and patchy direction which didn't attempt to add meaning through physicality.
Review by Marianna Meloni