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5:30 (Re-Play Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The Re-Play festival is giving us a chance to either revisit or catch up on some of the best plays from the 2009 24/7 Festival. 5:30 is one of those plays that deserves the additional exposure.

The play is a two-hander between Rob (Peter Ash) and Tim (Adam Caslin). They are two essentially different strangers who meet by chance on a train. Slowly as the play progresses the barriers between them are broken down and the two characters tell their stories.

On the surface the two could not be less alike. Rob is a brash, loud-mouthed tough guy, Tim an introverted and up-tight student. However these roles are blurred as the stories of both mens' childhood emerge. Neither is undamaged by what has befallen them.

Ash is very good as the increasingly manic Rob. He portrays with conviction a man close to the edge. Carlin's Tim is initially harder to read but the character develops and the two men become closer to being friends than would have seemed probable given their seeming differences.

Set on a virtually bare stage with only minimal seating, the play relies entirely on the two actors to create the atmosphere and tension – something they do with skill.

At just over an hour long, 5:30 doesn't have the time to become unfocussed, instead it leaves you emotionally drained. This is a good play and deserves far more than the half full auditorium it played to last night.

- Helen Jones


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