Review – 3 Seconds

Feb 20 2013 | By More

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Cara Kelly with Claire Knight in Lesley Hart's 3 Seconds at the Traverse in A Play, A Pie and A Pint

Cara Kelly with Claire Knight in Lesley Hart’s 3 Seconds

Traverse Theatre
Tue 19-Sat 23 Feb 2013
Review by Thom Dibdin

Òran Mór’s lunchtime theatre returns to the Traverse this week with a bruising debut from actress-turned-playwright Lesley Hart.

Set in a nameless Moray town in the midst of a flood, Claire Knight plays Diane, a housewife, seemingly happily ensconced in her high-rise flat on the top of the hill. Cara Kelly is Mary, the soaking wet stranger who arrives out of the blue – thrusting herself into Diane’s spartan, over-cleansed environment.

It’s an intriguing and inventive set-up, which builds in its brief but intense 40 minutes to a denouement that, without every seeming to contrive a twist, clatters all that has gone before to the floor.

The key to the success of Hamish Pirie’s direction is that he is unafraid to signal from the outset that nothing will be quite as it seems. Kelly’s first appearance is, with her back to the audience, of a fragile woman in a state of loss. Her children long gone south, while she has moved up to a rural community.

Knight is the protector of her fortress, contemptuous of all who appear in the landscape visible from her windows. Her cleanliness is obsessive, but while there is clearly mania here, the question of who it emanates from is far from obvious.

A slender passage of time

Huffing and puffing up the stairs and into the two older-women’s faltering stand-off, Helen Mackay cuts a volatile figure as Diane’s teenage daughter, Christine. Mackay captures the schoolgirl’s ripe overuse of swearing with unembarrassed ease.

As it begins to crank up the intensity, this turns darkly serious. There is rather more to it than a straightforward trio of strong performances, laid out for a piece of lunchtime entertainment.

As the relationships and previous connections between the three begins to become clear, a dark and twisting exploration of loss, guilt and retribution begins to emerge. It is about three long, long seconds which changed all their lives. A slender passage of time during which their reality was cracked and all three became damaged goods: seconds.

While this is a dark and sometimes unsettling opener to the season, it is quality stuff and marks a very welcome return for a Play, a Pie and a Pint’s brand of lunchtime theatre to the Traverse.

Running time: 40 minutes.
Run ends Sat 23 Feb.
Shows 1pm daily.
Details on Traverse website:

The rest of the a Play, a Pie and a Pint season:

A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity by Douglas Maxwell
Tue 26 Feb – Sat 2 Mar, 1pm

Most Favoured by David Ireland
Tue 5 – Sat 9 Mar, 1pm

Clean by Sabrina Mahfouz
Tue 12 – Sat 16 Mar, 1pm

The Commission by Steven Dick – winner of the Channel 4/ Òran Mór Comedy Drama Award
Tue 19 – Sat 23 Mar, 1pm

The Travers is offering a free ticket to Quiz Show by Rob Drummond to anyone who buys a ticket for all 5 weeks of A Play, a Pie and a Pint. Phone the box office on 0131 228 1404 to book.


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