Making a return to the Tristan Bates Theatre after its sold out run at the venue last year, One of Those by Tom Ward-Thomas is a funny and bittersweet production about the choices we make in life.
Directed by Amy Ewbank (Artistic Director of Doll’s Eye Theatre), the play tells the story of five different people taking the same journey down to Cornwall but is also a journey of discovery and forces the characters to confront some of the choices that they have made in their lives.
Set on a train, the almost claustrophobic setting means that the audience can really focus on the sharp and witty conversations that take place. Yet behind the humour there is bitterness, anger and self-doubt that is engaging to witness.
The first characters that the audience is introduced to are single father James (Tom Ward-Thomas) and Laura (Amy Newton), who although they don’t know each other start easy conversation, which soon becomes heated as they question the way in which Laura chooses to be with someone who is older than her, while she in turn questions the amount of time he spends with his daughter. Newton and Ward-Thomas have a great and easy chemistry together that is really believable and engaging to watch.
Meanwhile on the same train, Philip (Martin Ball) and Davina (Emma Kelly) are planning their first weekend away together – when Philip’s wife Alice (Louise Bangay) walks in. Aside from the typical shock and anger of discovering that Philip is having an affair, the play cleverly switches around to show the things in common the two women share. It is brilliantly balanced between calm and confrontational.
Bangay is wonderful Alice on the one hand vulnerable, but with a element of strength that bursts out on occasion. Meanwhile, Kelly isn’t given particularly a lot to do as Davina and her character seems to be slightly underdeveloped and Martin Ball’s Philip is weak and uncertain that is hard to make audiences feel any sympathy for his character.
It is a wonderfully pacy and energetic production that also comes across as judgemental and yet it is difficult to see which direction that the play is going to take at first there appears to be a little lack of clarity in the opening scenes that take a while to develop.
Yet there is a wonderful sense of humour within the writing by Tom Ward-Thomas, which reveals the unexpected ways we can be forced to confront the choices in our lives.
Bittersweet and engaging, the production is confrontational from beginning to end, wonderfully expressed by the strength of the writing and the production itself.
One of Those continues to play at the Tristan Bates Theatre until the 13th February.