Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Temper

Richard O'Neill
Vexation Productions
24:7 Theatre Festival at Three Minute Theatre

Temper

Temper begins with the modern equivalent of a "Dear John" letter, as Calum leaves a message on Debs's voicemail to tell her he's ending their relationship and leaving the flat and his job.

However before he can leave, downstairs neighbour Mick arrives, wittering on about plumbing and a leak from Calum's flat into his. This delays him long enough for Debs to arrive, not having heard Calum's message as her 'phone battery is flat. Debs is much older than either of the men—young Mick knows her as "Andy Nugent's mum".

Mick leaves and the couple move to the bed, but Calum is put off by the arguments of the couple above and the thought that Mick is listening from below. Although he doesn't mention the voicemail message or his decision to leave, he talks about how the flat oppresses him and makes him feel trapped.

The best developed character in the piece by far is Mick, both in the great character dialogue—he repeats all of his anecdotes verbatim for each character and ends his half-formed sentences with "fingy, you know"—and in the superb performance by Taran Knight, clad in a Liam Gallagher tee shirt.

Debs (Jane Leadbetter) gives us some information about her character and some tantalising hints at how her outlook on life differs quite sharply from that of Calum, but these are not developed as much as they could be.

The least-developed character is the central role of Calum, played by Andrew Madden. We are watching a man go through some sort of depression, but this is largely portrayed through moping around and a lot of talk through dialogue that is sometimes over-explained. At one point he has a lengthy monologue to Debs where it doesn't make sense that she never once interjects and so it seems contrived. Just watching someone being depressed isn't enough to give us an insight into their depression.

The strong opening to the play promises much, but the vagueness of the central role makes the whole piece unfocussed and lacking in story. However I could have happily watched much more of Mick, a character that writer and performer have made believable but very entertaining.

Reviewer: David Chadderton