If Cushion doesn’t quite come together, it certainly provokes thought.
They ruminate on the past, on achievements and failures, and a shared friend they lost to breast cancer. The Third Man theme plays; they dance distractedly. They are alternately unpleasant and kind to each other. All the time they pass a cushion between them as the need arises: whoever most needs comfort holds it tight.
Moments of humour lighten the production. A hotel in Greece one of them (Teresa Hennessy) visited every summer is exactly like the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. There is also poignancy. Her partner (Jennifer Scott-Reed) tells of winning her own fight with cancer, and her mastectomy, with glistening eyes. Hennessy, occasionally cruel, finds reserves of kindness. “You can be extremely strong and forthright,” she tells her later.
The actresses are mostly successful at covering the emotional range demanded by the script, but there is a slight clinical edge to their words, a sense of over-articulation. The production’s spareness acts as a drawback here, offering no relief from the performances. The script avoids differentiating the pair sufficiently to create tension or intensity.
Of course, there’s something odd about their relationship from the first. They’re identically dressed, for one thing, and sport blonde hair of an identical hue, and they seem to have been together for some time. I weighed up several hypotheses (twins? identical twins? fraternal twins?) before the play’s final lines made the solution clear. It’s a touching end. If Cushion doesn’t quite come together, it certainly provokes thought.