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One Minute review at Bush London

Simon Stephens’ cool, dark play, first seen in Sheffield last June, is set against a graffiti-scrawled London cityscape as two guys from the Metropolitan Police spend fruitless months investigating the disappearance of a child, snatched by an abductor with unknown motives, until that terrible moment when the body is found and the bad news must be broken to the mother.

Told as a series of fragmentary conversations and duologues, it could so easily have been another segment from The Bill. But during the course of workshops led by the director, the focus falls not on the crime or plodding details of detection but the effect the loss has on police camaraderie, the despairing parent and even passers-by with only tangential connections to one another, the police or the plot.

In fact, plot and criminal circumstance have virtually disappeared, replaced by vivid characterisations – notably from Simon Wolfe as the melancholy detective inspector whose professional and domestic disappointments lead him into a depressive vortex of controlled anger relieved by chain-smoking and alcohol.

He finds solace in the cheerful company of a cafe waitress, a moonlighting student determined to succeed, played with delightful empathy by Sarah Paul. There are also fine portrayals of the homesick detective constable from up north, by Tom Ellis, and the stoic mother whose husband is mysteriously absent, touchingly played by Teresa Banham. But the palm for pace and originality must go to Lucy Black as a middle-class kook, who can never finish a sentence and wins the laughs.

Production Information

Bush, London, February 4-28

Author
Simon Stephens
Director
Gordon Anderson
Producer
ATC and Sheffield Theatres in association with The Bush
Cast
Teresa Banham, Lucy Black, Tom Ellis, Sarah Paul, Simon Wolfe
Running time
1hr 25mins

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