Aug 8 2019 | By More

★★★☆☆    Initially intriguing

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Sun 4 – Sat 24 Aug 2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

Arrivals, by Twelve Twelve and New Celts at theSpace on the Mile, is an odd beast. It is probably fair to describe Dougal Thomson’s script as two plays; one that works very well, and one that is less successful.

The first thing to say is that this starts very promisingly indeed. Tony (Johnny Cameron) wakes in a deserted airport in Budapest, hungover and with no memory of how he got there. Unfortunately, his only companion is Mel (Hannah Bradley), whose ebullience is not ideal for someone in his state.

Hannah Bradley and Johnny Cameron. Pic Twelve Twelve

Thomson’s dialogue is pleasingly sparky and funny, with Bradley’s comic nous contrasting cleverly with Cameron’s skilful evocation of a disgruntled man facing up to the morning after to end them all.

While the situation of two people waiting around, apparently killing time, is hardly a new one, there is a brio to this, aided by Sarah Masson’s inventive direction (it is amazing how versatile nothing but a couple of suitcases can be).

Unfortunately, it becomes clear that the play is about to go somewhere else entirely, and a creeping unease about where that might be is soon replaced by the realisation that it really is heading in that direction. Much of the humour and energy of the opening section are replaced by a more ponderous tone that never quite convinces.

deliberate vagueness

The dialogue still has an economy and considerable verve, and the performances and staging remain impressive, but the scenario that is played out lacks both originality and conviction. There is an inescapable feeling that staying in the realms of straightforward comedy might have been more advisable, but Thomson should be congratulated for having the ambition to try such a volte-face.

That the production still manages to stay on the rails is testament to how successful the performances and direction are; once again, even if it is not entirely successful, credit for ambition is deserved.

There is a deliberate vagueness to much of the later part of the play that may be intended to add to the mystery, but instead suggests a lack of clarity. While it remains involving, it is a shame that the momentum of the first half cannot be sustained.

Running time 45 minutes (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile, 80 High St, EH1 1TH (Venue 39)
Sunday 4– Saturday 24 August 2019
Even dates only at 3.30 pm
Tickets and details:

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