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One of Those review at Tristan Bates Theatre, London – ‘an anti-romcom’

Martin Ball, Emma Kelly and Louise Bangay in One of Those at Tristan Bates Theatre, London Martin Ball, Emma Kelly and Louise Bangay in One of Those at Tristan Bates Theatre, London. Photo: Jamie Scott-Smith

Tom Ward-Thomas’s new play is an anti-romcom – a sharply funny but not unsympathetic look at different sorts of social awkwardness. On a London-to-Penzance train a young couple meet cute, only to discover themselves unable to avoid saying all the wrong things, at first accidentally and then with malice aforethought.

In another car an older man’s plans for a dirty weekend with his mistress are foiled by the unexpected appearance of his wife. In each case, and in the subsequent discoveries that the two groups are related, much of the fun comes from the playwright’s skill at alerting us that the next thing someone says is going to be something he or she will regret, and thus letting us enjoy both the faux pas and the characters’ surprise at realizing what has just been said.

In performance, much of the comedy is thus in awkward silences, stunned reactions and doubletakes, and director Amy Ewbank has led her cast to exploiting all these opportunities without over-milking them. Amy Newton and the playwright himself have fun with the younger couple who are never quite sure whether they’re flirting or bickering, while Louise Bangay, Emma Kelly and especially Martin Ball find just right balance of pathos and ridiculousness in the older triangle.

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A sharp-edged comedy which revels in faux pas and social awkwardness