Standing on a monochrome stage, each on his own pedestal, three characters talk about a few days in their lives. They don't realise how their decisions influence other people's lives. While the characters never interact on stage, the audience can piece together the links between their narratives.
Russ is a thug with a penchant for Radio 4. After explaining that he has discovered Just a Minute and inexplicably recounting an incident where a toddler approached him in a supermarket, he tells us about one of his ‘assignments’ in gruesome detail. Tom is a teenager who thinks a lot, but has trouble expressing himself to people; Martin is a schoolteacher who has not had a girlfriend since the 1990s. After a random encounter with a stranger he decides to become more impulsive and, while this works out well for him, it has a devastating effect on others.
This is a new play by Emily Jenkins, who has also produced and directed the production. Jenkins's writing is at times very beautiful, such as when the little girl is described as crying 'butterfly tears'. At other times the language is overly florid and many of the speeches last longer than they need to. The plot is well-constructed, however, and it is refreshing to see a play from a new writer that does not spoon-feed the audience.
Unfortunately, the staging is also a bit awkward. The three actors stand next to each other throughout the play, which means audience members to the side of the thrust stage can only see one of them clearly for the whole performance.
The acting is characterised by mannerisms: Oliver Ashworth, who plays Russ, starts every sentence with a little jumping motion, while James Hender as Martin and Kyle Treslove as Tom do their best to act past the repeated phrases in their dialogue.
It is very difficult to root for any of the characters. Russ and Martin are thoroughly unpleasant, while Tom seems to be so hopelessly in trouble that one can't imagine a way out for him. This play may not work for everyone, but it will appeal to people who like the type of theatre so often described as ‘gritty’.