Was she or was she not fully aware of what she was doing? He certainly was, and for that reason should he have stopped before taking Birdie’s virginity?
A play that lingers in the mind and leaves ample room for speculation
There’s a suggestion that girls hovering around the age of consent were his weakness. By the end, we know that Dan’s life has moved on from those days, but between then and now there have certainly been plenty of casual encounters with girls and women of all ages. Dan was twelve years older than Birdie and certainly played the field. As a manager at the golf club he had influence and control that gave him power to which curious female staff might be attracted and either willingly or unknowingly succumb.
There is much left to speculation in One Under Par at the Bridge House Theatre, directed by Miranda Kingsley, not in terms of what took place on that fateful ninth hole, but rather in what motivated them and how they each felt about what they were doing. Dan is somewhat introverted and not the sort of guy who would talk openly about such matters. Jonny Burman plays him as a very kindly and sincere individual. There is nothing malicious or brutal or about him. On the contrary he exudes a charm that suggests anyone would be safe in his company and that he is a genuinely nice guy. His behaviour at the time seems completely normal and certainly Birdie raises no objections and outwardly has no immediate regrets. Everything on the surface appears entirely consensual and indeed she goes back for more on several occasions and talks about the sensations she experienced with relish.
Writer and performer Daisy Roe gives Birdie a very casual demeanour that is interspersed with moments of excitement and thrill on discovering what being with a man can feel like. She is similarly reserved in her later confrontation with Dan, allowing herself one outburst to release the pent up emotions of the intervening years.
After she loses her job, something in which Dan is complicit, she moves away from the claustrophobic confines of a village existence for a life in London, about which we are told very little. Then she arranges to meet Dan once more in their old local. She brings with her seven years of reflections on what took place; baggage that she has accumulated and hindsight with which she has interpreted the events and how she believes she felt at the time. She seeks closure to an event that over time has troubled her, but a huge cloud hangs over her rationale and what she is really seeking.
Events now unfold in the present. Do we accept her words and actions at face value or should we dig beneath the surface to find what is really motivating her? Has the carefree girl who sought pleasure on the green become someone overwhelmed by resentment or is she playing a far more sinister game? And what of Dan? Burman plays him as such a nice guy, would anyone want to see his life ruined, except perhaps Birdie for reasons of revenge?
The production at times is rather static and somewhat slow in moving the story forward, but it’s a play that lingers in the mind and leaves ample room for speculation about the motivations of the two characters.