Oran Mor, Glasgow
From Marlowe to Mamet, throwing down the gauntlet of male power has long been the thrust of some of the most revelatory drama. David Harrower’s enticing two-hander taps into a multitude of modern mores, as a middle-aged man with time on his hands and a teenage boy square up to each other on an otherwise ordinary afternoon in a forest clearing. What transpires as this forty-five minute confrontation unravels is a tense, initially oblique exchange, which says much about bullying and scape-goating, but even more about how one constructs an identity, only to have it violated and denuded enough to prompt a personal crisis.
On an individual level, this is school playground stuff writ large as parental revenge. Look closer, though, and at least in the older character, named only as A, it reflects an all too recognisable sense of white-collar disempowerment in need of an avenue to channel the pent up anger and frustration that surfaces through it.
Harrower’s script is as taut as a freshly skinned drum, the dialogue a series of finely tuned parries and ripostes which increase in clarity as they prod their way to a forebodingly ambiguous denouement. Dominic Hill’s production, the fourth lunch-time collaboration between Oran Mor and Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, draws out a pair of bristlingly intense performances made flesh by a suited and bearded Stuart Bowman as A and Scott Fletcher as the be-gloved J. In construction, the menace Harrower unwraps is opaque enough to resemble Peter Handke. As for the eventually contents of the box on which the play hangs, by the end, you get the impression it won’t be staying empty for long.
The Herald, March 31st 2009