Play Two, Tristan Bates Theatre

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By an anonymous guest critic

As the audience enters the small studio space, we see a young man scribbling animatedly on a legal pad. Whether he’s mentally troubled or just in an intense creative state, we’re not sure. The mystery of this young man named Trevor (played by the play’s author Scott Howland) unravels over the course of the next hour in this new production directed by Harriet Taylor.

Play Two uses a flashback structure in such a way as to reflect the state of mind of Trevor, a troubled and confused young man whose mother has recently passed away. He is left living with just his father, a caring man who feels unable to meet his son’s emotional needs.

We meet two women in the present who question Trevor as if he were a violent criminal or perhaps a mental patient. Are these two women psychiatrists or policewomen?

The play flashes back to show Trevor hanging out with two male friends, Alex and Ashley, who both encourage him to forget his grief over his mother by going out drinking and clubbing with them. It’s there that he meets Louise, a young lady of the same age whose parents are on the verge of divorce.  The two of them bond due to their similar circumstances and up having a sexual encounter which may or may not have been violent in nature – it takes place off-stage. This becomes the key event of the play as Trevor seems to remember only having consensual sex with Louise, whilst she accuses him of the exact opposite. The mystery of what did or didn’t happen between them is the crux of the play.

It’s a fascinating piece of work which grapples intelligently with serious issues of mental health, identify, memory and how the state treats criminal suspects who have mental health issues. Harriet Taylor directs succinctly with excellent use of lighting, sound effects and later in the play, beautifully choreographed movement from the cast.

The actors all do an excellent job with sharp, snappy dialogue and quick scene changes. As a writer, Howland is an exciting talent with the ability to inject Pinteresque humour and Lynchian horror into a story which is based on an actual incident.

This is the second collaboration between Writer/Actor Scott Howland and Director Harriet Taylor. Their previous work was Nothing to Perform, which was presented at The Cockpit in 2017. They are a creative team worth watching out for.

Play Two runs through 9 February.

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