Mr Incredible*** (Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 15, 2016 in Theatre

mr_incredible_updatedThis review was originally written for The Reviews Hub: http://www.thereviewshub.com

They say that it takes two to Tango. A relationship works when the parties have compatible visions of their life together and for the future, but Camilla Whitehill’s new one-hour play, directed by Sarah Meadows, examines what may happen when all the pieces that make up a relationship start to come apart.

The play is a monologue told by a man and, interestingly, both the writer and the director are women. Whitehill has commented that she wrote it because she wanted to come at an issue from the opposite side and because “the patriarchy harms everyone”. It is a provocative play, intended to stimulate debate by looking at gender issues from a male viewpoint, yet it feels as if the female perspective is integral to it throughout.

Adam is 31 and his four-year relationship with Holly, five years his junior, has just ended. Holly claims that he smothered her. Talking to an unseen person, perhaps a counsellor we think, he goes on to describe how the couple met, came to live together and drifted apart. Adam needs the security of a family that was denied him as a child and he wants children, but Holly wants to develop a career as a journalist and grasp at the opportunities available to young women in the modern world, When she becomes pregnant, she opts for a termination.

Whitehill is presenting us with characters whose aspirations are the opposites of those of their equivalents in earlier generations and her play suggests that we, as a society, are still not comfortable with changes that have come about. As played by Alistair Donigan, Adam betrays the play’s title by being Mr Credible, unexceptional in every sense, but loving and compassionate, perhaps the model of a modern man. Adam’s anxiety as he tells his story is conveyed very effectively by Donigan.

The play is low-key and moves along slowly at times, but it has a sting in its tail that will widen debates further. There are two sides to every story and the writer has given us Adam’s, but, strangely, it feels as if she has also given us Holly’s. This is one to see and talk long about afterwards.

Performance date: 12 August 2016

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