Playwright David Hutchinson has quite a gift for creating dialogue, particularly humour, and characters.
Within his new play, Where the Solitary Eagle Flies, you could be forgiven for thinking oh, here we go again: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, but there’s a considerable twist. Problem is, there’s also too much twisting and turning in an ambitious, untidy plot, with inconsistency and non sequiteurs. All this robs it of the opportunity to be truly moving, with relying heavily on coincidence and contrivance, such as the reason for the off puttingly portentous title. Things get pretty confusing; had I not overheard somebody’s explanation, it would have been difficult to tell how the first half ended.
It’s also a set of two halves, basically: Rachel’s home versus Afghanistan, for Jake joins the Army after they break up. And some interesting touches though they remain just that rather than being put to greater use, eg, dance, which is her occupation. However, scenes are not always differentiated clearly enough, nor the time-line; worse still, the ending rushes up, more like Tardis trickery than deus ex machine. Jake’s Army colleague unexpectedly takes on a crucially different role, Lee McPherson having presented Michael with great relish, the kind of hard man who has it running right through him like a stick of rock, and probably tattooed (and mispelt) as well. Unfortunately, the Glasgow accent is undecipherable at times, likewise some of Army scenes, more chaos than action.
Back home, Rachel takes up with Saul; Herman Gambhir does well with little to play with, more understudy than a serious rival to Jake, though Sarah Wolff is appealing as the cute Charlotte, employee turned quietly desperate girlfriend. But Jack Cosgrove and Jessica Spalis are splendid as Jake, an endearingly complex hero, matched by the delightful Rachel: partners in crime but genuinely sympathetic characters.
Fail better, said Beckett. Flaws notwithstanding, this is a filmic, engrossing play so it’d be shame if you felt it’s not one to watch. Because, as a playwright, Hutchinson certainly is.