Ring Road (Traverse: 12 – 16 April ’16)

Martin Donaghy as Mark and Angela Darcy as Lisa. Photo. Traverse theatre.

Martin Donaghy as Mark and Angela Darcy as Lisa.
Photo. Traverse theatre.

“Both actors perform brilliantly in a small space (and on a narrow bed)”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars Outstanding

Fifth and last in this Spring season of A Play, A Pie and a Pint.

It was the prickly cactus that did it, that brought to mind Love’s Labour’s Lost and fun puns on pricks, butts and horns. Mark notices it by the Reception desk of the hotel that’s just off the ring road. He reckons he’s there for sex (oh, not the archery then) and he’s right. Lisa does want him but it’s more his sperm than his good self that she’s targeting. She desires a baby while Mark just fancies the pants off his teacher sister-in-law. Ouch!

Anita Vettesse has written a painfully entertaining comedy and director Johnny McKnight does indeed make the pants fly off the bed. Ring Road is frisky, certainly, but it is also sensitive to what Lisa is feeling. She is 40 years old, has ‘grown to love’ her husband, but is still without a child. The pressure is on big time.

A late afternoon’s delight via Dayuse.com might be all very well but Lisa (Angela Darcy) sees Mark (Martin Donaghy) more as a ‘facilitator’, which he’s not best pleased about. He is even less keen on the idea when brother Paul (a wry, downcast voice-over from Robbie Jack), Lisa’s husband, joins them by being put ‘on speaker’. The two brothers are plumbers, sharing the same van, rather than the same women but it’s still odds-on that the dismissive reference to Screwfix is deliberate.

Mark’s spattered overalls and rigger boots look strange in the tidy, unexciting hotel room and he knows that the whole situation is just not right. Twin beds are bad enough – and that ‘art’ on the wall!- but the twitchy tension is the real passion killer. Lisa, in particular and unsurprisingly, is a bundle of nerves. At worst Mark is confused, but she is probably more conflicted at the end than at the beginning, which is touching and sadly credible.

Both actors perform brilliantly in a small space (and on a narrow bed). Donaghy does “For fuck’s sake” as baffled, happy, hurt and kind all at once, while Darcy is no less expressive, just more couth and desperate. The fact that Ring Road is also very funny is down to the quality of Vettesse’s writing.

 

outstanding

StarStarStarStar

Reviewer: Alan Brown (Seen 12 April)

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