Fault Lines

Stephen Belber

Phantom Owl Productions

Basic Mountain

From 05 August 2015 to 31 August 2015

Rating: ***

Review by Philip Fisher

Fault Lines is not as good a play as Gruesome Playground Injuries or Filthy Talk for Troubled Times but gets an equally classy production in this European première directed by Matthew Lillard.

A barroom chat between two old friends in their late thirties changes in nature with the arrival of a loud, drunken stranger.

Up to that point, Dean Chakvala in the role of Bill had made a strong case for monogamy, while recognising potential conflict where the two parties have disagreements, say about becoming parents. George Griffith’s less complex Jim just wants to save the environment and sleep around.

Gradually, the hour-long drama becomes a theoretical ethical debate. That is largely because Steve Connell as Joe seems more like an aggressive daytime talk show host with a fixed agenda than an ordinary fellow.

Initially, he merely interrogates the other pair like a bad conscience while buying them drinks.

This makes the piece very contrived and the sense of being in a game becomes even more pronounced with the arrival of Zibby Allen as Bill’s wife.

More and more odd twists provoke further debate but they also begin to stretch credibility.

Even so, this is an enjoyably edgy production from a company that will be on the must-see list if it returns in 2016.