Replay (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 13, 2017 in Theatre


This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub:

A policewoman’s lot is not a happy one. Performing her own hour-long monologue in the aptly-named Bunker One at the Pleasance Courtyard, Nicola Wren requires herself to drop to a seated position on the hard concrete floor repeatedly, perhaps showing us that an actor’s lot is not always so happy either.

Wren’s character is a constable up for promotion to sergeant. Advising her on how to tackle the interview, a senior officer gives her a list of criteria which includes “be yourself”, commenting astutely that it is the one thing that she needs to work on. The advice is given over a meal of dodgy prawns, ensuring that the following day does not begin too well.

The play demonstrates that a smart uniform, a breezy persona and an air of calm authority cannot mask inner emptiness. Our heroine is able to handle all the ugliness and aggravation that her job throws at her, but she is defeated by lingering grief for her lost older brother, Jamie. Finding an old cassette player she inserts a recording made by Jamie for her 10th birthday and replays it over and over, listening particularly to the track Sit Down by the group James. Every time that the title words are sung, she obeys the instruction, just as she used to do with her brother.

Wren engages with the audience as if trying to restore calm after an incident. Her police constable is the sort of person that we feel comforted to know is protecting us – upright, straightforward and optimistic. However, she is caught out by basic emotions that are common to us all and it is a fair cop.

Performance date: 11 August 2017

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