One In A Million

October 16, 2015 | By | Reply More

★★☆☆☆   Well-meaning

Traverse Theatre: Tues 13 – Sat 17 October 2015
Review by Hugh Simpson

One in a Million, the latest A Play, A Pie and A Pint production from Oran Mór at the Traverse is a disappointingly insubstantial affair.

It would be stretching matters considerably even to call this a play. Instead, it is little more than an extended advert for the charity Mary’s Meals.

Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter and Alan McHugh. Photo: Leslie Black

Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter and Alan McHugh. Photo: Leslie Black

Susan is a young trainee teacher from Blantyre (that’s Blantyre, Malawi) who is also a DJ, while Gerry is a handyman from Scotland. They meet in a school where Susan – one of a million who has previously benefited from Mary’s Meals, is to give a talk about her homeland and publicise the charity.

And that’s really about it. Despite the best efforts of Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter and Alan McHugh as Susan and Gerry, there is no character development, no narrative progression, no sense of jeopardy of any kind. Most people would agree with a great deal of what is said, and it may all be propaganda for the worthiest of causes, but it is still propaganda nonetheless.

The character of Gerry is particularly unbelievable, a preternaturally open-minded and biddable character who makes friends with Susan over a shared love of the Beatles, Ray Charles and rap. This is no doubt designed to show that people are the same the world over, but even a chance remark about how boybands don’t count as music is merely echoed by Susan, when it would have at least been a chance for some kind of disagreement.

tired and trite

McHugh attempts to give his character some kind of life, but he is very much on a losing wicket here. Bobb-Baxter similarly strives to make Susan more than a cipher, and the flatness of the result is in no way down to the abilities of the performers.

Writer Cathy Forde has shown in the past – notably in the excellent children’s novel Fat Boy Swim – that she can do a lot better than this. There is some lively dialogue, but most of the humour is laboured and the observations about Scotland and the wider world are tired and trite. Director Stephen Darcy has done his best, but even at 55 minutes this seems woefully overstretched.

It is all perfectly pleasant, undoubtedly well-intentioned, essentially harmless – and might even do some good. As a piece of theatre, however, it is profoundly disappointing.

Running time 55 mins (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 13 – Saturday 17 October 2015
Daily: 1.00 pm; also Friday at 7.00 pm

Details and tickets from http://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event-detail/682/ppp-one-in-a-million.aspx

ENDS

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