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One Minute review at the Barn Theatre, Cirencester – ‘a slick revival’

Garry Summers and Sophie May Wake in One Minute at the Barn Theatre. Photo: Ben Collins
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Reviving prolific playwright Simon Stephens’ flawed, elegiac 2003 drama One Minute in the age of social media, Iwan Lewis’ stylish but insubstantial production looks striking, but lacks a necessary urgency.

Following five characters tangentially connected to a child’s disappearance in North London, the play quickly spins off into a frank yet delicate discussion of grief and acceptance, of the minutiae which people can obsess over, and the tiny yet significant details they miss.

Infused with a low-key sense of sadness, evident in the fraying personal relationships and gradually accumulating anxieties of each character, Lewis’ production nevertheless feels tentative, almost stuffy in the early scenes.

It takes a powerful turn from Rebecca Crankshaw, clinging to brittle, gracious rationalism as the missing child’s mother Dr Schults, to finally shatter the production’s stiff crispness. Beside her, Sarah Hanly gives a strong performance as dissatisfied bartender Catherine, instilling her scenes with an easy naturalism, while Jack Bence is appropriately edgy as an out-of-his-depth detective working his first case.

PJ McEvoy’s slick and visually arresting design lends the show an appealing edge, placing the action in a tunnel of concentric rings filled with grainy projections and scrolling twitter feeds. Moody monochrome videos serve as backdrops for each of the play’s meditative monologues, giving us brief, unsettlingly bleak glimpses of London by twilight, accompanied by the delicate but devastating lilting of Harry Smith’s pervasive, minimal score. Through it all, the silhouette of a child flickers up again and again, elusive but ubiquitous.

Barn Theatre artistic director Iwan Lewis: ‘In the age of Netflix, theatre has to change its game’

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Slick but dispassionate revival of Simon Stephens' pensive police procedural