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One Minute

Simon Stephens
Bush Theatre
(2004)

With the exception of its London location, the second play in the Bush's mini season of Simon Stephens' plays is very different from his black comedy, Christmas.

One Minute is a very experimental play where form is seemingly more important than plot or character. It builds a collage from fragmentary episodes with the intention of achieving a whole that is far more than the sum of the parts.

The basis of the story is the disappearance of an 11-year-old girl in upmarket London. Her mother (Teresa Banham) is initially reassured by a Northern Irish policeman (Simon Wolfe) but becomes increasingly despondent. He in turn has problems with his rookie partner (Tom Ellis) and an informant who claims that she saw the girl (Lucy Black).

This latter character adds a touch of humour. She is a kind of over the top Ab Fab Sloany type, but her motivations are cloudy, unless she is mentally deranged.

The plot develops on Anthony MacIlwaine's stylish set, through numerous very short scenes containing dialogue, monologue and on one occasion, a John Cage-like silence.

When viewed coldly, One Minute seems to be no more than a standard police procedural sliced up and stuck together in a relatively random form. Experimentation in theatre is always worth trying but success can never be guaranteed.

Rachel Lynn Brody reviewed this production on tour at the Traverse, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Philip Fisher