Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

You’ll want all the characters to die: Infinite Life, at the Dorfman Theatre, reviewed

Plus: a scruffy, slapdash Jack and the Beanstalk, with a Marxist prelude

Kristine Nielsen (Ginnie), Brenda Pressley (Elaine), Marylouise Burke (Eileen) and Mia Katigbak (Yvette) in Infinite Life at the National Theatre. Photo: Marc Brenner

Infinite Life is about five American women, all dumpling-shaped, who sit in a hotel garden observing a hunger strike. Some of them haven’t touched food for days, some for weeks. ‘Don’t be afraid to puke,’ counsels one of the dumplings. ‘Puking is good.’ They pass their afternoons wittering inanely about nothing at all. One dumpling is an air hostess, another works in banking, a third has a job as a fast-food executive. Or so they claim. Each of the dumplings might be lying to the others but it would make no difference because nothing connects them, and they have no stake in the situation other than the desire to burn up time.

It doesn’t feel like a play but a prank staged by psychologists

After a while it transpires that the dumplings are not hunger-strikers but weight-watchers hoping to cure their many ailments by fasting. The main dumpling, Sofi, is troubled by an infected clitoris which makes her groin feel ‘like a blow-torch’. Whenever the chance arises, she treats her itchy genitals with a seven-hour sex marathon. Another dumpling tells a story about driving through a eucalyptus grove. That’s the end of the story, by the way. A third dumpling recites passages from the trash novel she’s reading. A fourth jabbers about Christian Science.

Sofi, who appears to be the best-educated dumpling, holds forthright views about sex and she announces that online porn is dominated by ‘enormous idiot rapists’. One night she leaves a hysterical message on her lover’s phone in which she describes being sodomised by a toasted Hispanic delicacy. Then she lies on her back masturbating.

After a few days a new dumpling – male, half-naked and white-haired – joins the fat farm. The other dumplings discuss the possibility that he’s a mirage generated by their calorie-starved and hallucinating minds. Sofi starts to flirt with the imaginary male and they form a bond over some photographs of a diseased colon.

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