4 stars The irresistible rise of budget airlines has made international travel accessible across the social scale. This wasn't the case when John Godber's brittle study of a middle-aged working class couple's broadening horizons first appeared in 1992, when the world seemed a lot bigger to Bet and Al and the generation they represent. Their sense of claustrophobia is accentuated even more in Kenny Miller's striking new co-production between Perth and the Tron in Glasgow by stylising their living room as a white cube which more resembles a prison cell or a hospital ward than a home. With the pair either perched on chairs or else prowling the room looking for an escape route, Bet and Al's mono-syllabic exchanges point up the domestic torpor of what their relationship has become. Emasculated since being made redundant, Al seeks solace by painting lifeless pictures in the garden shed, while Bet buries herself in magazine competitions, trying to win herself a life, a prize which eventually comes through a trip to Paris. As the play follows their journey, from cruise ship to Paris itself, Bet and Al's emotional impasse cools, and a series of little epiphanies open out their world-view to something more panoramic. Despite Godber's tendency for mawkishness, the clipped mundanity of Bet and Al's barbs more resemble 1970s German minimalist writers. Miller's production plays with this quality by investing it with an impressionistic sense of style that largely avoids sentimentalism. As Bet and Al, Emma Gregory and Andrew Westfield capture all the fish-out-of-water social awkwardness of a class with low expectations and even lower aspirations, but whose lives have just been changed forever.
The Herald, March 19th 2013 ends