PPP: Until It’s Gone

Feb 28 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆   Thoughtful

Traverse: Tue 28 Feb – Sat 4 Mar 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

Until It’s Gone, the first in the new Traverse season of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint at the Traverse, is a downbeat, thoughtful work.

Presented in association with Stellar Quines, Alison Carr’s play features two nameless men – one in his twenties, the other twice his age – who meet at a broken bench in a run-down park. They have been brought together by an app, and so it seems at first to be a date.

Billy Mack and Sean Connor in Until It’s Gone. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

It soon turns out to be something stranger. They have been summoned by a government-backed programme aimed at making friendly contact between men, years after all of the women on Earth have mysteriously disappeared.

Carr’s script steers clear of any specific details of how and when the catastrophe occurred. This is probably wise, considering the setting must be at least 25 years in the future, yet the technology and concerns are very much of the here and now.

This is because, like all good SF, the play isn’t really about the future at all, but instead focuses on contemporary politics. Those details that are given about the strange extinction suggest that the historic weight of undervaluing, underpayment and outright misogyny proved too much in the end.


This leads to some good old-fashioned agitprop, which is delivered with real passion by Sean Connor as the younger man.

While this section sits uneasily with the rest of the play, it is actually the only point at which the production catches fire. Otherwise, it is a serviceable rather than an inspiring piece, deliberately low-key despite its apparently grandiose setting and themes.

Sean Connor and Billy Mack in Until It’s Gone. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Not all futuristic dystopias have to be high-concept blockbusters, of course, but they need to be a little more elevated from the everyday than this occasionally is.

It seems to be obligatory for all recent PPP outings to be described as ‘a dark comic drama’, but there is nothing hugely dramatic here, and only incidental comedy.

The dialogue is sharp and well observed, and interesting things are said about gender relations, or about men’s inabilities to form deep friendships and the effect this has on mental health, but it never really goes anywhere in particular.

wonderfully multi-faceted

This is not down to the cast; Connor is impressive as the younger man who does not even remember a world with women. Meanwhile, the ever-excellent Billy Mack’s performance as the older man, still mourning his wife decades on, is wonderfully multi-faceted. They benefit hugely from Caitlin Skinner’s fluid and sympathetic direction.

Gemma Patchett and Jonny Scott’s design once again makes tremendous use of a minimal, one-set staging.

Some decidedly odd notes are struck – the production suffers from several false starts, as the passage of time while Connor’s character waits for Mack’s is signalled in a heavy-handed and irritating manner.

However, the more subtle points on show win out in the end, in what is an understated piece that nevertheless has some bite.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 28 February – Saturday 4 March 2023
Daily at 1.00 pm
Tickets and details (returns only): Book here.

Next week’s A Play, A Pie and A Pint is Burning Bright by Áine King. Book here.

Billy Mack and Sean Connor in Until It’s Gone. Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan


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