A Single Act

Jane Bodie
Hampstead Theatre
(2005)

A Single Act is a kind of companion piece to Osama the Hero, with the same director, Anthony Clark, and four cast members who all appear in the other play.

It is set in the 12 month period from January 2006 to January 2007 and looks at two couples, with the unusual twist that time travels in opposite directions with a couple of brief meetings in the middle.

The opening is literally striking as Tom Brooke's almost psychopathic Scott tries to deal with the aftermath of his second assault on his girlfriend Michelle, played by Christine Bottomley. Their story moves from battering backwards in time to seduction.

By way of contrast, we first see the other couple Neil and Clea, played by Ian Dunn and Rachel Sanders, one year earlier in the aftermath of the British equivalent to 9/11.

Neil is a photographer who never quite gets over the shock of seeing people killed. He spends the next year trying to come to terms with life and failing. His lawyer wife uses her time trying to bring him back to normality, without much success.

The two couples have little in common other than unsatisfactory relationships, although it turns out that the younger couple are lodgers of the elder.

Patrick Connellan's design, a modern flat with everything in black and white is attractive, particularly when the blind is opened to give a stylised view of the London skyscape. It does though cause a little confusion as initially, it appears that both couples occupy the same flat at different times.

A Single Act seems to have two separate purposes. It attempts to show how ordinary relationships fail to survive under stresses and also looks at the impact of a major catastrophe on a large city. However, it never really focuses on either to the extent that they are given true meaning.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher