Falling

Shelley Silas
Bush
(2002)

As Falling starts, Linda and Pete are contemplating life after her fifth miscarriage. They love each other very much but are now into their forties. They have spent the last seven years increasingly desperately trying to have the child that will complete their relationship and this may have been their last chance.

The arrival of Linda's sister, Kate, and her 16 year-old daughter Grace should have brought comfort to the grieving couple. In fact, it brings complications galore.

This second play in the Bush's Naked Talent season explores the urge to have children from a number of different viewpoints. It also looks at the impact that this can have upon the families involved.

The first half of the play consists of a detailed analysis of the impact on Linda, played wonderfully by Patricia Kerrigan, and Pete, a very sympathetic Adam Kotz, of the loss of yet another ray of hope. One of the most terrifying ways in which Shelley Silas demonstrates the lacuna is to show the video of three embryos, all named,that will never become children.

While Jennifer Black's Kate is not fully realised, her daughter Grace gives Abby Ford the chance to render a very funny and, eventually, a remarkably mature performance. She perfectly captures the dichotomy between the cheek of the almost adult and the underlying uncertainties of a 16 year-old who is in so many ways still a child play-acting at being a grown-up. It is also inevitable that she is the person who must shock her family and the audience, in a moment that Scottish director John Tiffany builds up to with quiet assurance.

By the end, one really fears for the sanity of Pete and Linda but the playwright realises that, as a rule, human durability is usually enough to withstand almost anything. After all that they have been through, their relationship remains strong and they understand that they must look forward.

The acting in this production is universally of the highest standard and at times, viewers may well find themselves close to tears. Some of the ideas could have been developed further. The second half of the play, which really digs deep into the psyches of its four characters, seemed in some ways to have been cut short and leaves as many questions as it answers.

Overall though, this is a very promising debut that has benefited greatly from allowing a new playwright access to top-quality direction and casting.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher