PPP Walking on Walls

Oct 20 2016 | By More

★★★★☆  Slight but sure

Traverse Theatre: Tue 18 – Sat 22 Oct 2016
Review By Thom Dibdin

Light as breath, Morna Pearson’s involving two hander in the A Play, A Pie and A Pint lunchtime theatre slot seems to slip by even faster than its brief 45 minute running time.

It is a breath, however, that carries an edge. One that wrinkles the nostrils with the distaste of memories it brings back; a foetid reminder not just of over-indulgence, but of the antics that came with it.

Andy Clark and Helen MacKay. Photo: Leslie Black

Andy Clark and Helen MacKay. Photo: Leslie Black

Claire and Fraser are alone in her office, the corner of the open plan floor where she works pushing numbers and looking at statistical breakdowns. Which is a common enough occurrence for her, loner that she is.

But for Fraser, bound to her chair with gaffer tape across his mouth, it is a rather more unusual situation, to say the least. Although, the thought that it might be part of a strip-o-gram prank by one of his pals, does indicate that it might not be as unique as you would imagine.

This relies very much on Helen MacKay’s performance as Claire. It’s her build up of revelations that initially drives the narrative, speaking as she is to bound man, whose gag makes anything beyond a grunt most unlikely.

Which is not to say that Andy Clark is redundant as Fraser. His unsaid voice, the thoughts and fears crossing his mind as the truths of Claire vigilante status, a lone guardian walking on walls to save her community from decay, become apparent. The state of her mind, coming under question.


Designer Jonathan Scott doesn’t quite manager to create the feeling that the open plan office extends beyond the set into the audience – the mention that it does brings a laugh that is the script’s only real weak point. But he provides plenty to help bring clues to Claire’s character.

Andy Clark and Helen MacKay. Photo: Leslie Black

Andy Clark and Helen MacKay. Photo: Leslie Black

But it is MacKay who makes it work, with a performance which never veers into the over-theatrical, when it so easily could. Her creation of the fastidious Claire, overcoming her own inner turmoil to come to this point, reveals an utterly naive, self-delusional character. But also keeps alive the necessary hope that all is not as it seems.

Which, of course, it isn’t. So that while MacKay slips easily through the opening fifteen minutes or so, allowing laughs to come with fresh and lively ease, it is when the gaffer tape comes off and Fraser is allowed a voice that the smell of something uneasy begins to come through.

Here, then, are ancient conflicts. The revelation of an earlier relationship between Claire and Fraser that has a near universal resonance.

But it is the way that it is portrayed by MacKay, together with Clark’s tacit acknowledgements and naive reinforcments, that reinforces its resonances, which gives it the pain of understanding to its audience.

And it is in the seemingly equivocal ending that director Rosie Kellagher and writer Pearson conspire to twist the knife of knowledge. And leave you with the uncomfortable truth that the impasse is permanent. That some hurts, some unthinking acts, will never be truly absolved.

Running time 45 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 18 – Saturday 22 October 2016
Lunchtimes: 1pm, Evening performance Friday 21, 7pm.
Tickets and details: https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event-detail/946/ppp-walking-on-walls.aspx


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