Aug 13 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩  Astute and funny

Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)
Fri 1 – Sun 24 Aug 2014

Can relationships survive infidelity? Owen McCafferty’s play, Unfaithful, at the Traverse is both astute and funny in tackling this thorny subject.

Benny Young and Cara Kelly. Photo Jeremy Abrahams

Benny Young and Cara Kelly. Photo Jeremy Abrahams

Tom (Benny Young) and Joan (Cara Kelly) are a middle aged couple who have been together for many years. So many years, that now their daughter has grown up and left, they remain behind asking themselves what it’s all about. They’ve grown out of the way of being together.

When Tom goes out for drink after work one night in an anonymous city centre bar and is offered sex on a plate by a forcible young woman, Tara (Amiera Darwish), he is sorely tempted. After an angry confrontation between Joan and Tom, she makes an outing to the same hotel to take her revenge in an appropriate manner with a young escort, Peter (Owen Whitelaw).

In a well acted four hander with excellent performances all round, Benny Young, in particular, shines as Tom. To call his performance undramatic is a compliment; he simply is Tom, the middle-aged Dublin plumber. In addition to extracting fine performances from the cast, Rachel O’Riorden’s direction is pacy and full of punchy comic timing. Gary McCann’s design is versatile, providing appropriately bland backdrops against which to act out this tale of alienation. Kevin Treacey’s lighting is a key element of the design, providing both whole scene changes and subtle shifts of emphasis.

blisteringly funny repartee

Owen McCafferty has a lot to say on the nature of relationships and is able to communicate it with blisteringly funny repartee and keen observation. Unfaithful goes beyond infidelity to look at how we connect with our nearest and dearest, how we can sustain long-term relationships, and whether it’s the physical act of infidelity that is the real betrayal or the lack of connecting.

McCafferty is a master of not only putting the words in his characters’ mouths, but letting us see how often those words fail us – where does the truth lie and is it always what binds us?

The plot does stretch belief somewhat with its major twist, and while the relationship between Joan and Tom is fully drawn, Tara and Peter’s is more sketchy. Having said that, because the plot twist provides a pleasing symmetry, and because the dialogue is so quick-fire and well-observed, we’re prepared to forgive a little.

Ultimately Unfaithful is humane and compassionate, offering hope that the kindness of partners can, in the end, be what gets us through the night.

Unfaithful is part of the Made in Scotland showcase.

Running time 1hr 20mins
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED  (Venue 15)
Fri 1 – Sun 24 Aug 2014
Times vary
Tickets from tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/unfaithful
Company website: www.traverse.co.uk


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