Stephen Metcalfe's three-hander is set somewhere on the outskirts of a small New England town. Martha – "almost the perfect image of a virgin schoolmarm" – and brother David, a solitary drinker scarred by his experiences in Vietnam, find their tranquillity shattered at five o'clock one morning by David's old buddy Megs. He drags them out fishing, is invited to dinner, and in the course of a single day reawakens dormant impulses in Martha and forces David to come to terms with his war trauma.
Metcalfe is at his best when detailing the minutiae of one-to-one relationships, and this strength is mirrored in Robert Clare's scrupulous direction. (It's also invigorating to see a production with so much physical energy that even the set sometimes gets damaged.) The ghost of the absent third member of the 'Nam trio, Bobby, looms large (though the eerie noise at this point is just the plot creaking), but it is the lonely passion of Martha which is dwelt upon. Amanda Boxer invests her with a recognition of the awkwardness of her strategies yet a persistence in them, while Trevor Cooper's Megs is a wonderfully rounded creation, never implausible in his mercurial mood-swings. The failings of the script's superstructure are more than offset by a care and sensitivity that bode well for this new company.
Written for The Independent.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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