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One Under review at Theatre Royal Plymouth – ‘a bold revival’

Stanley J Browne and Reece Pantry in One Under at Theatre Royal Plymouth. Photo: Patrick Baldwin
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Winsome Pinnock’s psychological drama about family grief and the search for reconciliation was first presented at the then Tricycle Theatre (now Kiln) in 2005. Now it has been remodelled and pruned by the author for a nine-week tour of major regional theatres, commissioned by Ramps on the Moon.

One Under boasts a groundbreaking combination of captioning and audio description. At first, this does tend to slow down the narrative, but later they prove a considerable aid to director Amit Sharma in bringing greater clarity to Pinnock’s frequent time shifts and the complicated, if sketchy, backstories for her characters.

Stanley J Browne plays engine driver Cyrus, who quits his job when a troubled young man Sonny (Reece Pantry) throws himself under his train, in the wake of a soulless love tryst with shop assistant Christine (Clare-Louise English). Pinnock shifts the guilt to Cyrus, who views Sonny as his long-lost son and is determined to discover the reason behind his suicide.

All this is narrated through a rapid-fire series of flashbacks, teasing out the pain of the people Cyrus meets on his quest. These include Sonny’s loyal adoptive mother Nella (Shenagh Govan), and his bitter adoptive sibling Zoe (Evlyne Oyedokun), with all five actors handling the play’s reliance on everyday language with impressive skill.

They are at ease also with the quick-change nature of the narrative, played against designer Amelia Jane Hankin’s domestic set. Inevitably, though, they do struggle at times with a storyline that relies for a great deal of the play on coincidence.

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Verdict
Captioning and audio description are creatively incorporated into a bold revival of Winsome Pinnock's play about the need for atonement
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