<i>New Century: 2, Manchester</i>

Dealing with the consequences of stupidity and recklessness is a common but effective premise utilised stylishly by writer Claire Unwin in her one act play No Wonder, currently showing as part of Manchester’s 24:7 theatre festival, ably directed by Guy Jones.

The action takes place in two separate rooms. Alison sits by the hospital bed of a man who is in a coma and young child Luke sits at the desk in his bedroom drawing pictures. During the course of the play it transpires that Alison and Luke are mother and son and the man in the coma is husband and father to both. The characters recall the evening the man met with his fate from their own perspectives and reveal how the events of that night has shattered their lives.

Heather Johnson makes a valiant attempt to explore the complexities of Alison’s guilt, anger and frustration at the situation she has found herself in and is partly responsible for but she seems a little young and inexperienced to pull off the role completely. Paul Currie, however, fares better as the child Luke. We’re never told exactly how old he is, but a fleeting mention to a brother at high school would place Luke still at primary school age. Currie manages to effortlessly convince that he is a small child maintaining an excellent use of mannerisms and childlike enthusiasm.

At times Unwin appears to have an intelligent grasp of the mindset of a small child in a situation well beyond his years and there are some very clever moments of childhood logic that ring true. However, there is far too much coarse language that I simply don’t believe the child would use in this situation and this detracts from the innocence and believability of Luke’s character.

Despite these flaws, No Wonder is still a fresh and interesting piece of theatre and worth a visit.

- Malcolm Wallace