PPP: Ring Road

Apr 12 2016 | By More

★★★★☆    Ring of truth

Traverse Theatre: Tue 12 – Sat 16 Apr 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Ring Road, the last in the current Play, Pie and a Pint season at the Traverse, is a bittersweet affair. Anita Vettesse’s poignantly funny, well-crafted script benefits from some stand-out performances.

The set up, featuring Lisa (Angela Darcy) luring her brother-in-law Mark (Martin Donaghy) to a nondescript motel on a ring road, suggests a sex comedy.

Martin Donaghy and Angela Darcy. Photo Leslie Black

Martin Donaghy and Angela Darcy. Photo Leslie Black

With the twin-bedded room, beautifully evoked by Jonathan Scott’s suitably banal set, leaving little space for the actors to move around, and some suitably sharp and funny lines, it does seem to be heading towards farce.

What does emerge, however, is something much sadder. It is anchored by Darcy’s magnetic performance as a disappointed woman, crushed by the weight of conformity, unable to communicate her ‘aspirations’ to anyone – partly because she is unsure of what they are.

Donaghy, meanwhile, is both funny and touching as Mark, equally browbeaten but even less able to articulate his disappointments.

There is a great deal packed into a short space. The pacing of both the script and Jonny McKnight’s direction is excellent. Information is slowly revealed – none of it apparently earth-shattering, but with considerable cumulative effect nonetheless.

emotional impact

The dialogue is sharp and packed with observations on gender, class and social minutiae that will chime with many spectators. If the script has a fault, it is that the humour sometimes detracts from the situation – as if someone was reluctant to let any of the funny lines go, even when they do not sit quite right.

This, coupled with the way that the characters at times resemble sketches that might be filled in later, rather than full-fledged creations, can give it the appearance of a pilot for a TV series rather than a play.

Overall, however, it remains interesting and has a real ring of truth. This is aided not only by the two onstage performers, but also by Robbie Jack – as Lisa’s husband and Mark’s brother – who is heard only in voiceover but contributes significantly to the emotional impact.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 April 2016
Lunchtimes: 1pm; Evening performance Friday 15: 7pm.
Tickets and details: http://www.traverse.co.uk/


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