This story of interpersonal conflict kicks off at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the Southern Baptist Convention Church of a small rural town in South Carolina. The lake outside the church floods, forcing five people, among whom a lot of hostility is brewing, to spend the night together. Josh Bourne’s play alternately zooms in on the individual characters’ back stories and brings us back to the main meeting, and this proves an elegant way to approach the story from the different characters’ perspectives.
There’s Jael, a loyal church-goer who is very engaged in the community, but struggles as a single mother. Samuel, the town’s fishmonger, is unhappy about the way the place is changing, in a very timely reference to the increasingly deep divide between rural and urban citizens in the US today. Delilah, also a single mom, feels she’s never really been accepted as part of the town, coming from the big city. Pastor Talbot is the AA meeting’s organiser, who really wishes people wouldn’t swear so much on the church’s holy ground.
But the story really centres around Vincent, whom the others blame for the death of Jael’s husband 10 years earlier. Vincent is a half-Mexican immigrant who struggles to be accepted into the community. Robbie Fraser brilliantly captures the audience’s attention for each of Vincent’s sometimes jumbled and confused internal monologues. I do, however, wonder why the production team didn’t cast a Latinx person for this role.
Down With My Demons depicts very well how the toxic obsession with other people’s lives can destroy a small, traditional community. The dialogue is written well and could have allowed for a very dynamic story-line. Yet since the characters remained relatively tame throughout the whole piece, the situation never completely came to the climax I expected.
Overall, this production was a great showcase of some excellent writing talent, but I felt the cast had more to give when it comes to the desperation, anger and fear felt by these individuals, who are left behind in a fast-moving world.