Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Teenage angst and lifestyle issues mix with a detective thriller in Crossings, which tells the story of a self-harming adolescent whose best-friend, a young drifter, is found dead washed up on a beach.
Writer Clare Duffy uses the story of Jane's (Michelle Luthor) search for Sam (Dylan Williams) to explore ties of friendship and love in a tenuously connected community. The play is written with a sensitivity to each of the characters and their predicaments.
At the same time, there seems a gentleness and romanticism to the situations each faces - although one teenage girl (Bethan, played by Eiry Hughes) is apparently still in the closet, there never seems to be any real risk of her parents' finding out her 'secret' - although if the essentially healthy relationships Jane and Adam (Paul Amos) seem to have with their parents is anything to go by, her fear of discovery may be a bit unwarranted. While we hear that Jane has paid visits to Casualty, the final twist in the story seems to rely on our believing she is actually suicidal - and although her depression and rebellion are certainly strong threads through the piece, they fail to reach a state where it's easy to believe this is true.
Given that the story is about a group of emotionally dysfunctional people in Cardiff, and murder and betrayal are the foundations upon which the story rests, it's disconcerting that the world Duffy and the company have created is so sterile, so clean. Some of this is combated in blocking, with credit to Director Simon Harris, but in the end the piece still feels very sanitary.
Perhaps most true is Duffy's representation of Ruth (Cler Stephens), a mother whose daughter seems to be slowly tearing herself to pieces. While the other older characters continue to enable the children of the piece to continue travelling their self-destructive paths, Ruth does her best to put her foot down - and Stephens plays this in a way that is both sympathetic and understandable; teens seeing this performance may have their first glimmer of realizing that actually, mum and dad are only human, and when they see their children in pain it hurts them, too.
Although Jane's search for Sam's killer is used as the vehicle to drive the story forward, it (and its ultimate resolution) is less than compelling stuff. The real meat of Crossings is in its relationships and the way these play out over the course of the hour and a half play.
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody