Four men sit on death row. They speak with English accents and their stories appear to be located in England. However, their warder is American. I’m guessing the writer, Sarah Goddard, wants to confront us directly with the consequences of capital punishment in our own backyard. And in Sean Turner she has found a director to give her words a snappy and well-organised production.
Goddard and Turner are also blessed with a series of excellent performances from Matt Oliver, Daniel Bottomley, Graham Elwell, Anne Leone and Tom Skitt. Bottomley in particular as the guilt-ridden husband who killed his wife rather than lose her, offers a perfectly understated response to his predicament. Oliver, given the hardest task of convincingly portraying a psychopath, leans rather towards easy melodrama than taking the more difficult route of getting inside such a warped and twisted mind and body. The simple set is especially effective and well used.
In the end, though, all this tells us little about murder, criminal or state-sanctioned. The characterisation is a touch too pat; there’s an absence of real human complexity in the writing. If anything, this play is more about male relationships in extremis. You don’t feel challenged or provoked or carried forward to a new place. But there is plenty of talent on display here; acting, writing and directing.