PPP: Pleading

Oct 3 2017 | By More

★★★★☆  Tensely human

Traverse Theatre: Tue 3 – Sat 7 Oct 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Rob Drummond’s Pleading gets the latest series of A Play, A Pie and A Pint at the Traverse off to a particularly strong start.

Teenagers Freya and Michael have been arrested in an unnamed Asian country for drug trafficking during a gap year trip. Although both protest their innocence, their lawyer tells them that their best bet is to accept a plea bargain of life imprisonment, which will at least spare them the death penalty.

Kim Allan and Daniel Cameron. Pic: Leslie Black

The set-up seems to evoke the classic ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ beloved of game theorists, but anyone familiar with Drummond will not be surprised that he has some altogether different tricks up his sleeve. The resultant storyline has enough content, interaction and thought-provoking humanity for a play several times the length of this one.

Freya (Kim Allan) seems the familiar over-entitled Brit abroad whose main reason for expecting preferential treatment is that she is ‘not foreign’, while Michael (Daniel Cameron) is equally recognisable in his needy, puppyish nerdishness.

Such recognisable archetypes are merely the basis for subtle, layered performances – aided by Drummond’s realistic and quirky dialogue and enviable command of structure. Nicole Cooper as Amelia, the lawyer who presents the travellers with their choice, is equally impressive.

accomplished direction

For such a short piece to have several twists means that there is a danger of the audience being left behind in terms of believability. It does not ever quite happen, although there are a couple of moments where the tone does jar.

However, the production hangs together remarkably well, not least thanks to David Ian Neville’s limpid and accomplished direction. At no time does a thoroughly theatrical experience betray its origins as a radio play, which could easily have happened in less sure hands.

This has the tautness of a thriller, but never sacrifices the reality of the characters. There is also room for philosophical musings on the nature of truth, experience and relationships in an extremely impressive production.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 October 2017
Daily at 1.00 pm, Fri also at 7.00 pm
Information and tickets: https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event-detail/1252/ppp-pleading.aspx

Kim Allan, Nicole Cooper and Daniel Cameron. Pic: Leslie Black


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