Director: Amelia Sears
Writer: Eilidh Nurse
Part of the Original Theatre series, Miles is an online play based in a Scottish caravan park. Ed, fresh out of school, has arrived at Reception for a job interview. This is for a maintenance position, but the receptionist Janie grills him. It turns out Ed has failed the Tesco online entry test several times, and this was the only other option. Janie’s brittle quality is matched by her boss, Gary. Ed is reluctantly hired, but as he leaves, Janie presses a Sky box into his hands. He is told to get rid of it, no questions asked. Ed is understandably confused, but does as he’s told.
This is a caravan park perched on the coast, but this is not some ageless Brigadoon: the nearby town can boast a Co-op AND an organic deli. But the camping business isn’t doing so well: only one regular, a Mr McGregor, stays all year round and the rest of the time they rely on casual bookings. This is a campsite that has seen better days. Ed finds a dead mouse in the pocket of the snooker table.
The play explores the tentative way Ed strikes up conversation with Janie – or at least tries to. Monosyllabic at first, with sarcasm for days, Janie brushes off his cheeriness initially. But as Ed gently persists, and has proven himself trustworthy with the Sky box, a friendship begins to build between the two. Janie admits to him that she stole the equipment out of McGregor’s caravan because she had overheard him watching porn. This was not soft-core fare, but amateur, violent and non-consensual.
Glimpses of the real world start to break through the stasis; Gary goes on a date, and Ed brings Janie some travel books from the library. The progress then threatens to stall as Ed’s older brother, Eliot, arrives home unexpectedly. The tone quickly changes: Eliot (played by Lewis Mackinnon) is a bullying, unsettling presence. Not only is he back to see family, there is also unfinished business; things that need to be said.
Although this is a rehearsed reading (the actors are carrying the script with them throughout), many of the performances feel ‘off-book’. As the inscrutable Janie, Hiftu Quasem slowly lets us in, with a delicately nuanced take on trauma and how it gets processed. Gary Lewis’ experience in film and television serves him well: he gets maximum uplift from grumpy, curmudgeonly Bobby, to the point where the stage feels a little empty without him. But at the heart of the play is Ed. A charming, garrulous performance from Cristian Omega provides balance and emotional resonance.
Written by Eilidh Nurse, this play is a multi-strand construction, built around a central metaphor of distance. The idea of emotional space: self-preservation, the need to hide away. While it picks at many loose threads, the play’s intelligent approach to complex issues means there isn’t a neat resolution for everyone. But progress can be made. Miles finds itself in a very different place from where it started.