Writer: Simon Stephens
Director: Oliver Kaderbhai and Matthew Churcher
Reviewer: Ann Bawtree
Simon Stephen’s One Minute is not an easy play either to watch or to perform. For one thing it runs straight through, which, at over an hour and a half, is a long sit, even in the comfortable tip up seats in the Vaults Theatre. Anyone who had not read the publicity regarding the play would have been well into it before realising that it is about a lost child although the loss of the child is neither explained nor explored. It is rather the effects of the loss on the five characters which form the dialogue.
The first, of course, is the child’s mother, played by Cait Davis. Hers is a truly heart-rending depiction of any parent’s worst fears. The two police officers, one an experienced inspector and the other a novice, whose interest is mainly professional, have to decide whether or not it is “worth” continuing with the search after a certain length of time. They presume that the child must surely be dead and so it is “a waste of police resources” to continue, or is it? They are played with great credibility by Jake Ferretti and Oliver Kaderbhai. The two other female characters are a sophisticated woman of the world and an inexperienced young girl. They discuss subjects from clothes buying to the prospect of motherhood and are played very distinctly by Rebecca Killick and Rose Riley.
Natalie Parsons’ set seems simple. A cube like structure of metal picture framing contains the action while a glass, or possibly mirrored, screen at the back of the stage gives a ghostly feel to characters who are off stage. At one point it becomes a window lashed with the most spectacular torrential rain. The backdrops are walls covered with notices, posters or possibly graffiti. The music of David M Saunders plays throughout. Its insistence adds to the air of agitation and fear while the use of video and sound add to the understandable feeling of unease.
Much use is made of imaginative lighting, vertical beams shining down on the players make a forest of pillars. During the action, which is often very physical, almost balletic, actors string electric cables which eventually light up, to and fro across the stage. These perhaps exemplify the complexity of the relationships between the characters.
Not an easy subject for an evening’s entertainment, the audience was appreciative of the expertise of the cast, who modestly declined to come back for a second curtain call.
Runs until October 3rd | PhotoColin J Smith