Play Pieces: B Roads by Morna Young and David Rankine
Spectrum Centre, Inverness
* * *
AS a vehicle for looking at post-trauma lives, B Roads isn’t going to break any 0 to 60 land speed records for its start.
But it’s worth hanging in there and enjoying the scenery.
This new play will get you to its destination – an aching core of emotion and understanding – in just under an hour.
It takes too long at the start for David Rankine to give us a hungover character waking up and getting the day started.
But with a bit of cutting, as an entry into what follows, it’s perfect – as is the soundtrack from which you learn so much.
Morna Young plays the apparently long-suffering girlfriend, flitting in and out, as we see her partner writing down comments in a big diary and trying to motivate himself to dress and tidy the chaotic house.
In a brief angry moment, she says: “All you do is mope around being pathetic, like a f***ing teenager. It stinks in here! And I’m ashamed of this – of you. You’ve ruined everything we ever had!”
A Groundhog Day conversation starts to repeat like a chiming bell, bringing a growing sense of unease for the audience every time it returns.
Slowly, it dawns that we may not be understanding the full story of the couple’s life unfolding in front of us – surreal episodes and a moving piece of storytelling work well – and that makes the drama more gripping.
It’s hard to talk about the storyline without giving away something that needs to come as a surprise.
The balance between humour and sadness is well-handled by Morna and David in the writing – and their strong, well-matched and compelling performances.
You’re allowed to grow fond of the characters, while sometimes finding their behaviour baffling.
Morna and David, her regular collaborator in the Elgin-based Out of Darkness Theatre Company, decided to create an original piece of work for the 2013 Play Pieces season which became B Roads.
Afterwards in a Q & A session, they revealed an early Facebook query while researching persuaded them that the mental trauma after a car crash might be a good starting point. So many seemed to have experienced it.
Though the two very experienced actors, writers and directors have acted together for seven years, B Roads is their first co-written piece.
Though this performance was flawed in terms of pace, all that’s needed is a change of gear to get B Roads – and a powerful subject imaginatively handled – back on track.
You can still catch B Roads by Morna Young and David Rankine at the Warehouse Theatre, Lossiemouth, on Thursday (Oct 10) and Friday (Oct 11) as part of the Moray Feelgood Festival, itself part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival. Doors at 7pm, show starts at 8pm. Tickets £5. To book contact firstname.lastname@example.org
* The next Play Pieces drama at the Spectrum Centre, Inverness, on November 2 is Your Baby Is Too Big by Elastic Concoctions. More details at www.playpieces.co.uk