Theatre Review – The Garden

Mar 30 2010 | By More

★★★☆☆     Lingering

A Play, A Pie and A Pint at The Traverse: March 2010
Review by Thom Dibdin

Short, bleak and lingering, Zinnie Harris’ The Garden feels like a very fitting end to this Spring’s season of A Play, A Pie and a Pint at the Traverse.

Here, in a world which is hot and bothered, Jane (Anne Lacey) waits at home for her husband Mac (Sean Scanlan). She spends her days worrying about bumps in the lino and trying not to fall into depression. He spends his arguing with his boss over his status in some important scientific committee.

Anne Lacey in The Garden. Pic: Lesley Black

Harris creates her world with a rare concision. From Lacey and Scanlon’s easy mundanities, their moaning about the buses and the neighbours, an external reality becomes clear. And through their discovery of a green shoot underneath the lino, a whole unsaid history between them becomes revealed.

The themes of catastrophic overcrowding, resource depletion and guilt-ridden self-doubt that have dominated the short season are again present in The Garden. But Harris brings little of the humour that marked out the season’s previous productions, to assuage these particular pangs of conscience.

Instead, with Lacey and Scanlan both in great form creating characters whose unremarkable lives outside the stage are as clear as soap, she allows them a gentle, grumbling but largely unremonstrating slide into acceptance.

There is no capitulation by Harris, however. No acceptance that, as we are all doomed at any rate, we might as well throw in the towel. It is a hard-edged message to those who sit back doing nothing and those whose actions are simple procrastinations until dire warnings become reality.

This might be chilling stuff that doesn’t endear itself too much to any audience seeking pure escapism in their lunchtime theatre. But it is definitely worth seeing.

Sell-out performances have become the norm during A Play, A Pie and A Pint’s brief month at the Traverse, so it is heartening to be able to reveal that the collaboration with Oran More will continue into the Autumn Season, with five more new productions already booked.

The real question should be of how such a healthy state of affairs can be nurtured even further. If such a bleak offering as The Garden, presented on a day when spring has turned right back into cold, sleet-ridden winter, can inspire a sell-out house with queues of people waiting for returns, then surely there must be a way of staging A Play, A Pie and A Pint on a more regular basis.

Run ends Saturday

Traverse Theatre website

A Play, A Pie and A Pint website

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