One Under

Winsome Pinnock
Tricycle, Kilburn
(2005)

One Under publicity image

One Under tells the stories of two Londoners whose lives are inextricably linked by the death of one of them.

Sonny, played by Daon Bron,i opens the play by jumping under a Tube train driven by Cyrus (Brian Bovell). The motivations of these two are seen to be remarkably similar as their histories are related in parallel scenes.

The adopted Sonny has been driven to kill himself by the firm belief that in a drunken moment, having just faced the trauma of meeting his blood father, he has killed a little girl. Before making his final leap, he spends a day acting as the genie in the lamp for Adie Allen's Christine, a genial dry cleaner whose daughter is his supposed victim.

This need to suffer from a guilt that is probably only imagined transposes itself onto Cyrus. He begins to think that he is personally responsible for Sonny's suicide and he turns detective in an effort to find a hidden message from the dead man.

In doing so, he also catches Sonny's unreasonable generosity, acting as ministering angel to the latter's lonely adoptive mother, Lynn Farleigh.

Along the way, we also meet Christine's daughter, Aleysha, Cyrus' workmate Mags and a train cleaner Ernest. These comic character parts are well played by Sarah Ozeke, Louise Yates and Geoffrey Burton respectively and provide the play with its highlights.

Matthew Wright's design, half-Tube station and half-wall, and Fergus O'Hare's soundscape both give the play exactly the background that its subject-matter requires.

The plotting and language in One Under have a tendency to suffer from coincidence and cliché. The consequence is that the characters are prone to act irrationally. This means that with the exception of the comic cameos, the two-and-a-half-hours can be very hard going.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher