Crash

August 8, 2015 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆    A desperate poetry

Traverse Theatre (Venue 15): Fri 7 – Sun 30 Aug, 2015

Dark, troubling and involving, the Traverse Theatre Company’s Crash may not succeed on every level but certainly benefits from a mighty performance by Jamie Michie.

In Andy Duffy’s one-hander, Michie plays a fund manager whose life is turned upside-down by two sorts of crash – one in a car and one in the stock market.

Jamie Michie in Crash. Photo Mihaela Bodlovic

Jamie Michie in Crash. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

It is the car crash that seems to have the greater impact, killing his wife and leading him to make a series of unwise personal and professional choices in an attempt to recover his equilibrium.

The set, with its single black chair, is instantly reminiscent of Mastermind, but Michie’s unnamed trader seems to be interrogating himself. It is unclear whether he is a man broken by traumatic events, or a man who could not be broken simply because he lacks a recognisably human degree of empathy to begin with.

Either way, Michie manages to make the character believable and unusually sympathetic, with his meditations on control leading him to some extremely dark places. Emma Callander’s thoughtful direction helps to make a sufficiently riveting spectacle from what is not necessarily a notably visual piece, with great care taken over the importance of small gestures and the length of pauses.

The pauses are important, as Duffy’s script often has the rhythms more of a prose poem than a theatrical monologue. This is most obvious when the flow is undercut by judicious use of bathos, with some jet-black humour leaving the audience uneasy about whether it is appropriate to laugh.

poetic evocation of despair

Unfortunately, the structure of the piece is not as accomplished as its poetic evocation of despair, with the audience able to predict with some certainty what will occur. The shifts from present to past in the monologue are clumsily signalled; something that could also be said for the less than subtle light and sound design.

This is most unfortunate in the case of an insistent electronic hum that, until it became suddenly louder to reflect the character’s darkening mood, had been assumed to be caused by Traverse Two suddenly acquiring a new and sadly malfunctioning air-conditioning unit.

These technical mis-steps probably arise out of a wish to make the experience more theatrical, but instead undercut it. Thankfully, however, Michie’s towering efforts are not overshadowed.

Running time 1 hour
Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Friday 7 – Sunday 30 August 2015
Daily  (not Mondays), times vary.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/crash
Traverse website: http://www.traverse.co.uk/

ENDS

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