PPP: Squash

Oct 22 2014 | By More

★★★★☆    Troubling

Traverse Theatre: Tue 21 – Sat 26 Oct 2014

Macabre and brutalised, Martin McCormick’s nerve-wracking offering for lunchtime theatre A Play, A Pie and a Pint has distinctly Lynchian overtones which director Finn Den Hertog relishes in bringing out.

Keith Flemming and Anne Lacey. Photo: Lesley Black

Keith Fleming and Anne Lacey. Photo: Lesley Black

High on the 18th floor of a tower block, Ma (Anne Lacey) and Bald (Keith Fleming) can see right down to the street below. When Ma says she has seen Bald’s beautiful shiny yellow bike being stolen at 2am, he runs down and catches the lad who appears to be the culprit.

The soundtrack from Lewis Den Hertog draws haunting Hawaiian guitars into the ambient soundtrack as Ma and Bald interrogate the terrorised boy. The couple could have been plucked from a lost episode of Twin Peaks.

Ma’s dominating presence is built on control, but there is also something a lot more ambivalent running under it which Lacey brings out subtly – while McCormick’s script makes her intentions rather more explicit. The sense of dislocation is as troubled as any in Eraserhead.

Fleming keeps Bald just on the believable side of lunacy. With a play running at under an hour, shortcuts have to be taken towards characterisation. While many of Fleming’s mannerisms could have been lifted straight from the Central Casting vision of a “troubled” only son still living at home, he builds on the cliché to create a strong and interesting character.

It is with Cristian Ortega as Paul, the captured young boy, that things are potentially most interesting. The truth of the alleged bike-theft is pretty apparent from the off with the real question being not whether he stole the bike but what Ma saw.

In coming to that answer, McCormick begins to look at issues of danger, control, abuse and fear of the other – Ma and Bald are the only white Scottish residents left in the tower block.

The truth, when revealed, gives the previous seemingly random events of the play a deeper relevance. Yet, as a commentary on the central relationship and, particularly of the character of Ma, it adds a pile of questions about who the real enemies are.

Running time – 50 mins (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 21 – Saturday 26 October 2014
Daily 1pm (Friday evening show: 7pm)
Tickets and details at: www.traverse.co.uk

Anne Lacey and Cristian Ortega. Photo: Lesley Black

Anne Lacey and Cristian Ortega. Photo: Lesley Black


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