Rupture, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

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Presented as a production of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Workshop strand, this new play from writer/director Davey Anderson (creator of 2005’s Snuff and associate director of NTS’ biggest hit Black Watch) takes chances throughout, and so nearly gets away with them all.

Yet it is, in effect, a tale of three acts, and where the first two build a series of disparate plot strands, with some quite beautiful character work from a talented and capable ensemble cast, the last lets the play down by seeming to resist the very idea of cohesive closure.

The action focuses on the office of Colin (Neil McKinven), a building contractor who has been evicted from the premises, yet is allowed to work and sleep in his old room at night by sympathetic security guard Stewart (Brian Ferguson). Around this pair float Colin’s brassy wife Tracy, her blustering teenage brother Derek, and Caroline, a middle-aged forensic photographer who forms an odd relationship with Derek. Monika, the Polish night-shift cleaner whom Stewart idealises and with whom Colin enters into an immigration scam, drives the story on.

At this point the effect is gripping and beautiful, with Anderson’s script emphasising a naturalistic banality to each character’s live-by-night situation. Scene changes are effected through lyrical physical sequences, and the stage design allows each of the characters to fill a separate space and go about their activities in the background while another scene unfolds. Amid a good cast, it must be noted, Black Watch star Ferguson stands out by head and shoulders as an empathic, amusing and effortlessly watchable character actor, and a star in the making within the correct niche.

Just as each character’s own particular obsession – Monika’s with money, Stewart’s with Monika, Colin’s with autoasphyxiation, and so on – drives them closer to the personal schism of the title, however, the expertly maintained impetus of the play slips away. High drama replaces masterfully understated subtlety, and the plot strands that have been so convincingly built up do not so much entwine as brush against one
another.

That is not to say Rupture is even approaching being a bad play; more a very good one that seems tantalisingly unfinished.
Until Saturday October 6


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