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For Once


Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
The four walls of the cosy country kitchen which houses Tim Price's 
elegaic little play is a deceptively domestic setting for a piece in 
which worlds are ever so quietly rocked following the car crash death 
of a teenager. As Gordon, April and their son Sid recount their 
versions of the story via a series of devastatingly simple 
criss-crossing monologues while they go about their daily chores, the 
raging calm that slowly unravels reveals a sense of barely contained 
frustration beneath the surface. April gets by with her concerts in the 
city, Gordon through a solitary trawl through bars and B & Bs in search 
of solace. Yet it's Sid, who survived the crash, who provides the 
social glue between them lest they “stop pretending to be happy” as he 
puts it at one point.

Set in “a village with attitude” that looks an awful lot like Ludlow, 
the Shropshire town where the play's producers Pentabus reside, For 
Once is a sad, funny and meticulously observed debut by Price. Revived 
for this touring version in co-production with Sherman Cymru, Orla 
O'Loughlin's production becomes a desperate little dance, where the 
sleepy ordinariness of small town life is offset by the common or 
garden tragedy beneath.

As the first opportunity for audiences to see O'Loughlin's work since 
departing Pentabus to become artistic director of the Traverse, such an 
assured calling card bodes well for the future. As the parents, 
Geraldine Alexander and Patrick Driver present touching portraits of a 
family all at sea. Jonathan Smith as Sid, meanwhile, makes for a 
charmingly geeky survivor. When they finally come together, it's a 
moment of heart-breaking power.

The Herald, April 6th 2012

ends

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