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Brighton Fringe 2017

The Missing Special

Pretty Villain Productions

Genre: Contemporary, Drama, Fringe Theatre, Magical Realism, New Writing, Short Plays, Theatre

Venue: Rialto Theatre


Low Down

Pretty Villain Productions brings Rialto-prizewinning Richard Hearn’s The Missing Special to the Rialto stage directed by Roger Kay with a bare table and chair with neatly suggestive lighting.


It’s all in the maths obsession. Think Nick Payne’s Constellations with a tighter focus on one event and its outfall and rewind. Pretty Villain brings Rialto-prizewinning Richard Hearn’s The Missing Special to the Rialto stage directed by Roger Kay with a bare table and chair with neatly suggestive lighting.


The title brings mathematician Rufus working in a betting shop on his and Angie’s eighth wedding anniversary restaurant and he’s off on the probability of the specials always being off, which has infuriated Angie. She wants to talk of her debt-ridden friend Jen. Neil James’ Rufus steps out and addresses us with a finger-click stopping time: this was about to be the worst 24 hours of his life. We’re also treated to eight years earlier, how Angie met Rufus with their friend Gregory in attendance. They fall in love over films, she asks him out. Such linear interrupted time with flashback is straightforward for now.


Rufus takes Angie’s veggie salad to work, is visited by his father, already ill who suggests a very non-veggie meal. The work server’s continually on the blink; loyal Claire Kitty Newbury (who doubles as waitress, police superintendent and Jenny) resets the password and suddenly Rufus is under arrest. A sum of money has been paid out repeatedly on a bet made after the result was known. Jonathan Howlett also multi-roling as audience member, waiter (a male one might impress Angie being more engaged with probability…), father, constable Rufus’ mate Gregory who finally does become a lawyer then his lawyer, does his best, but Rufus might go down twenty years as part of a syndicate. There’s no CCTV as the server was down.


Here’s where several things get clever. We’re continually interrupted, once by everyone breaking out of role save James’ Rufus since they’re rehearsing this in prison as part of Rufus’ rehabilitation. He can’t go on bail as his father accidentally recycled his passport. Angie hardly visits. Then things accelerate. after eleven months some CCTV and a very rank salad turn up, but that money’s all in his account.


What this means for Rufus is a series of questions, and motives. Who’s the money for? What will Angie do? Do people get second chances or have they changed? Rufus tries a rewind to see what might have happened if…. In either version the end’s unexpected.


James very clearly depicts a blokey academic halfway through an MA on probability, obsessed with everything but emotional truth. His performance has to be commanding and it is: he grounds and swings the narrative. Sophie Dearlove’s Angie is excellent at depicting exasperated emotionally conflicted and sometimes intensely loving. Newbury’s laconic sharp-tongued set of characters is offset by loyal Claire who perhaps holds a torch. Howlett too modulates his voice from baffled handyman father through constable to smart loserville new lawyer who’s beginning to find his feet, despite what the police think of him.


Kay’s technical address and sharply defined lighting offers us the perfect opportunity to follow this fast-paced play on probabilities. It’s a clever but also heartening play, which also asks what time does to two individuals who dream of the one direction but wake up without interpreting each others’ dreams, or finding when they do they’re different. And what to do.