After his initial blustering attempts to get rid of Una, Ray’s initial concern is to convince her (and himself?) that he is not a paedophile, one of those men who grooms young girls for sex. Is he telling truth? I don’t know – does David Harrower? Ray claims that Una’s unhappiness is what brought them together. At 27 she still has a capacity for self-willed unhappiness, just as he is surprisingly judgemental of others. Most telling is the fact that in the two extended monologues that emerge from the realistically fragmented dialogue the real crime is seen as disloyalty to the partner: Ray finds himself defending himself against charges not of sexual abuse of a minor, but of deserting said minor.
Pilot Theatre’s production in association with the Theatre Royal is sure-footed, powerful, controlled and wonderfully claustrophobic. Director Katie Posner has the courage to allow stillness, especially in Una’s great monologue. Lydia Denno’s set is a triumph. Not only does it qualify as the most randomly littered set I’ve ever seen, but it manages to suggest that what we are seeing is actually the real room. Charlie Covell and George Costigan negotiate the fragmentary dialogue with remarkable naturalness. Covell’s Una moves from contemptuously aggressive agenda-setting, armour-plated with her own unhappiness, to agonised recall, to a No Man’s Land where solutions won’t present themselves. As Ray, Costigan shows the layers of self-justification peeling away strip by strip, but is the man we see at the end essentially any more guilty than at the beginning? Ray is clearly a flawed individual, but what exactly are those flaws?
Everything about the text, production and performances rejects sensationalism, embraces honesty and – inevitably, I suppose – provokes thought.