Bold and enticing, Abbie Spallen's play for three voices is given a compelling production at the Bush. This is a delightful opportunity for the actors to use all their storytelling skills to create the small-town border community in badlands Armagh, and bring out the triangular relationship between petrol attendant, Pumpgirl, bragging stock-car racer Hammy, and mousy, trapped housewife, Sinead.
The play is told in a succession of first person narratives which reveal, with a subtle regard for timing, the relationships between the three characters on stage. And, while gradually building up pictures of them as they are seen by each other, also create a suite of characters who are only ever talked about.
Orla Fitzgerald stars as Pumpgirl. A somehow anonymous tomboy figure, her garage is just on the wrong side of the border, so that only the foolhardy stop for the petrol which attracts less duty just a few hundred yards down the road. She has sneering eyes for all but Hammy, who gives her a lift home every now and then, by the way of a back lane where they smoke and she lies on her back looking at the scratches in the car ceiling while he moves around inside her.
It is a vibrant performance, providing the brief glimpse a woman whose disdain for the world creates such deep feelings of disassociation, that she allows it to manipulate her to its will, yet who has a vital spark running through her core. As No-Helmet Hammy, James Doran puts in an equally subtle performance, allowing the hard facade of bluster and bravado to slip beneath the suffocating tide of guilt and self-loathing as he suddenly wakes up to what is going on around him.
Strong in support, and only really coming into her own as the tragedy of interweaving lives is fully explained, Maggie Hayes plays Sinead with a mournful sense of self-possession. It's a slow-burn of a performance which, it seems, will inevitably explode.
Compelling and well performed as this is, you can't help feeling that there is another level in the script which director Mike Bradwell has yet to find.
- Thom Dibdin (reviewed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh)