There’s an unspoken rule on the tube: never try to start a conversation.
It’s realistic, but also, at times, excruciatingly slow
The set, however, is probably the coolest part of the production. On stage is what appears to be a genuine set of three seats from the London tube, with a pole to hold onto on either side. This is complemented by a coordinated use of the actors to fill out the compartment. People get on and off at stops, indicated by coordinated lights and sound. There’s even a chair in the audience that the ‘extras’ use, giving a sense of the other side of the room. Working together, these elements provide the perfect context for the meat of the play.
If only that meat was a little richer. The play really is three vignettes, held together by the idea of a chance encounter. Plays of this nature can work, but it does mean there is no play-wide arc or plot thread to hold onto. Without that to lean back on, it becomes essential that the moment-to-moment action is compelling. Here, the play’s own concept works against it. These meetings between strangers, true to form, start and stop. Characters exchange a few words, then go back to waiting, or reading, or whatever, until one character breaks the silence again. It’s realistic, but also, at times, excruciatingly slow. And when, as happened more than once, it’s possible to predict the next piece of the story, waiting for the actors to reach that point becomes an exercise in frustration.
The actors all deliver decent performances, though the older pairs have noticeably better fundamentals than the younger actors, who handle the first scene. And the set and concept are extremely compelling. But the story, as it stands, and the way in which it is presented, fails to take you along for the ride.