The Collection

Mike Cullen
Rapture Theatre
Tron Theatre, Glasgow

David Tarkenter as Joe Cravis, Jimmy Chisholm as Bob Lawson and Tam Dean Burn as Billie Shaw

With definite echoes of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, the action centres around a firm of debt collectors and their less-than-reputable ways of dealing with clients and, like Mamet's play, at its core is the pathetic battle of macho male egos.

It's a small cast: three rogues and one debtor victim. Bob Lawson (Jimmy Chisolm) once top dog and now fading, haunted by the memory of a deceased client, is at the centre of the piece. Billie Shaw (Tam Dean Burn) is new to the game, eager to make his mark and impress his mentor, the callous Joe Cravis (David Tarkenter).

It's an unsurprisingly grim look into the lives of debt collectors, not just how badly they treat the debtors but also each other, the office environment of dog-maul-dog. Of the three, though, Joe is played with particularly demonic energy by Tarkenter. Bob and Billie are hardly deserving of any sympathy though they appear less deliberately heartless.

The dialogue is very sharp, there is plenty of great swearing, especially from Tarkenter as Joe, like Peter Capaldi's Malcolm Tucker but with fewer metaphors and more menace.

It is quite an oppressive experience with just the one female, Elena Malcolm (Pauline Turner) being harrassed by these three obnoxious men. The play does seem to end up stuck down this one dark depressing cul-de-sac of male-female sexual power play.

Turner is good but the fact her part is always under threat means there isn't so much scope for her. However she did manage to develop the character of Elena over the piece and she did her best to give the play something else apart from an overpowering wave of testosterone.

The focus on Lawson and his client's suicide also becomes rather repetitive, with not much sense of progression over the piece. The continual use of the same large projection of the dead woman crying is also a bit too in-yer-face.

The play could also have delved a litle futher into the wider political context of debt.

The dialogue and actors to some extent make up for the plot, as the dialogue is very enjoyable, some good arguments like in Glengarry Glen Ross and the cast really get their teeth into them.

It's a play that certainly has its moments, two of the best being the ending and beginning scenes; it just needs a bit more meat in between.

Reviewer: Seth Ewin