Cancer is so frightening that it provokes perverse responses such as trying to pretend the disease is not really developing. Writer Garry A Morris and director/dramaturge Olusola Oyeleye use their new production, Tin, to encourage awareness of the vital need to take prompt remedial action. The intentions are the most worthy on earth but the resulting play feels like a work in progress. It is too long and unfocused. Lack of rehearsal means that the cast perform script in hand and are not always audible.
Whilst grieving for her late husband Pauline (Kate Doherty) discovers that her great grandfather left instructions for his ashes to be scattered in his Cornish hometown. She sets out to fulfil his wish accompanied by best friend Jacqueline (Debby Bishop) who is concealing that the cancer from which she was in remission has returned.
Doherty and Bishop have an easy rapport that shows a friendship made comfortable by lasting for years and they deliver the overlapping dialogue very well. But it feels like they are articulating the opinions of the author rather than portraying characters.
The structure of the play is weak. Presumably to expand the scope and include wider aspects of grief, the opening sections concentrate on Pauline’s backstory and motivation. This not only moves the focus away from Jacqueline’s more powerful story it also makes reference to a confusing number of people who never actually appear. The monologues performed throughout add little to the play and feature stylised dialogue that is at odds with the more naturalistic speeches made by the friends.
The subdued lighting of Aaron J Dootson and the gentle music by Jim Carey sets an autumnal mood perfect for the sense of regret that runs through the play. Director Oyeleye has a poor sense of pace so that the endings of both acts lack dramatic impact. Perhaps inevitably, in view of the efforts to communicate a point of view, the script is full of contrivances – a row between the friends achieves little other than to bring an end to the first act.
Tin demonstrates that the best intentions do not necessarily make for a good play.
- Dave Cunningham