Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Walking On Walls

Morna Pearson
A Play, A Pie And A Pint, Òran Mór
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Fraser (Andy Clark) is tied to a chair in an office; Claire (Helen MacKay) is the hostage taker. As the play unfolds, we gradually learn the reasons behind the situation.

What is so clever about Morna Pearson's play is that, not only does the back-story carefully come together like a jigsaw, it keeps changing our perceptions of the situation and of the two characters involved.

At first it is Claire who does all the talking as Fraser is gagged, nerdy and giggly—she comes across as potentially unhinged. So to begin with, it seems like Fraser is the innocent victim of an out-of-control but quiet vigilante.

Indeed, at first, it appears like the scenario of the film Misery; the play though overturns the cliché of the crazy female hostage-taker. Fraser is far from an innocent victim.

MacKay delivers what is for the early part of the play an exceptional monologue; by turns she is cold and rational but then witty, also serious and then childish. It is a captivating performance relying just on Pearson's clever script and little else.

Clark eventually gets to speak after his gag is taken off. He is very much a grown-up version of the school bully. Acting from a chair with his hands tied, Clark still manages to show us so much of Fraser's character.

The play raises lots of questions about vigilante justice, about childhood trauma, playground bullying, revenge. The two actors work incredibly well together and keep the audience gripped to this claustrophobic situation.

The play is not black and white and, although it is a man and a woman, the play doesn't dwell too much on gender politics, although it is touched on. Pearson is very skilful and continually shifting the dynamics of the situation.

A great one-act that keeps you guessing throughout and works so well because of the simplicity of the set-up and the intensity of the two actors.

Reviewer: Seth Ewin