Perspectives (Kings Arms, Salford)
An uneven but enjoyable night out says David Cunningham of this latest offering from Organised Chaos.
There is a strong educational aspect to writer/director Lynn Pegler's examination of feminism in Century's Sisters. Although willing to stand up for female empowerment by taking part in 2011's Slut Walk Sarah (Amanda Leigh Owen) feels unable to escape from her abusive relationship. Edith (Mary Hooton), a ghostly visitor from the suffragette era, helps Sarah clarify her position.
There is no doubt that Lynn Pegler has researched her subject but her reluctance to edit the information results in a play that is full of detail but low on drama. The Internet is used to convey the legislative passage of the right to vote and an interview outlines the objective of the Slut Walk. The background information crowds out character development leaving the play with people who declaim rather than converse. The use of characters as ways of articulating a point of view and conveying historical facts makes the play seem more suitable as an educational tool in schools than in theatres.
Although Smiles Fade in the Morning uses a family heirloom as a plot device Josh Hinds's comedy is more about different perceptions than history. Cracks in the relationship between Monica (Amelia Wilshaw) and Joseph (Simon Donohue) develop when a misplaced necklace causes the couple to acknowledge that they have very different opinions about each other's friends and family and to accidentally reveal past indiscretions.
Hinds develops a real feeling of subtle but nagging class consciousness to convincingly undermine the apparently perfect relationship although his play would have been a lot stronger had he been able to devise a satisfying punchy ending. Wilshaw and Donohue are very convincing as the brittle couple moving from casual sensuality to outright resentment and hostility
Although the plays have an historical theme only Sarah Van Parys atmospheric direction establishes any sense of time and place for Inference. This is vital as Michael Rumney's intriguing play Inference slips between time zones with an admirably brisk pace. In the 1920s we witness a publican's wife starting to keep a diary of key events in her marriage for the benefit of her newborn daughter. Yet when the play moves to the present day researchers are trying to determine what caused her to rip pages from the diary.
Sean Croke is excellent as the damaged yet somehow dignified ex-footballer and Claire Crossland just as good as his affectionate, cleared-headed and determined wife. It is, however, the anguished relationship between the two actors that gives the play a real emotional punch.
The uneven nature of Perspectives prevents the programme from being completely successful but it remains a varied and enjoyable evening.
Perspectives is at the Kings Arms, Salford until 28 June.