One Under – Arcola Theatre  

Sonny (Reece Pantry) has thrown himself under a train having had a rather strange relationship with a brittle, troubled woman who works in a launderette (Clare-Louise English). His mother (Shenagh Govan) and sister (Evlyne Oyedokun) are struggling to come to terms with his death, as is the devastated train driver (Stanley J Browne) who has arrived in their lives. It’s a moving play about love, forgiveness, despair and making the best of where you are.

The structure is complicated by many (arguably too many) time slips and flashbacks, which make the storytelling a bit opaque at times. The play ends, for example, at a point which precedes the beginning, so you really do have to concentrate.

There’s no problem with quality of acting and direction (Amit Sharma), however. Govan, for example, conveys a real sense of far-sightedness and wisdom which her daughter mistakes for something else. Oyedokun is totally convincing as the worried, sensible but somehow insensitive daughter. There’s lovely work from Browne as Cyrus whether he’s arriving at work and chatting to someone he meets on the street, hollow-eyed as he sorts Nella’s garden or totally traumatised in the aftermath of the death he feels responsible for.

I liked the neat way Amelia Jane Hankin’s set includes railway-style illuminated boards over the playing area to connote the station and were then used to display sur-titles. Also interesting is the way the cast are almost never off stage. Most of the time they sit quietly in the corners of the playing area when other scenes are playing.
Review by Susan Elkin

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