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One Hour Only

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Underbelly Cowgate
2-26 August

Another year, another play about a prostitute. But Sabrina Mahfouz's tightly-written, cliché-dodging two-hander eschews almost entirely the typical lewdness, rudeness and comedy of embarrassment, instead setting up an interesting meeting (prostitute on her first night, client on his first time) and then just lets them engage with each other. No sex, lots of spark.

Performed on Francesca Reidy's gorgeous set (if that's the kind of apartment you get with the job, I'm changing careers) in Matt Wilde's stylish production, Nadia Clifford's educated first-time girl and Faraz Ayub's 21-year-old geezer speak in the kind of "innit" patois which so annoys those of us with a fetish for grammar.

"I had, like, an image of what it would be like and it wasn't like this" Clifford tells him. It's all very matter-of-fact. They could have met in a bar. They happen to have met for sex. There are no drugs issues, no "I have no choice" pleading nor  "I'm a liberated woman using men, so there" speeches. It's the well-crafted normality of it all which is so winning.

It's of great credit to Mahfouz and to the performances of Clifford and Ayub that a play which could have been about a dirty liaison is such a classy affair.

- by Benet Catty


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