Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Molly, a 39 year old CNN journalist, returns to a holiday home at Delaware Beach she visited when she was 14 to retrieve a hand written note she left for her future self in the panelling above the bed. While there she meets Ray, the 16 year boy with whom she shared a romantic liaison at dusk, and their reunion sparks memories for them both and brings them both to a confrontation with themselves.
This is a delightful, beautiful and heart warming two person play. Written in interwoven monologue and two person dialogue the play sets to unite the lives of two very different people to whom fate has dealt very different cards. Molly was a perpetual stutterer until a eureka moment when she was 14 that led her to consciously discard her stuttering self, and Ray a convicted felon, jailed for 10 years and still struggling and living with his crime on a daily basis. Molly lives a successful yet unfulfilling life in a news team, and she is a mirror of the unreflective moralising of the news world, she reports, she does not experience. Ray is the opposite. He feels, experiences and come to terms with things via living them through time, with all the pain that this entails. It is a portrait of two very different ways of living, of two very different mistakes which produce two very different set of life circumstances.
Also it is an exploration of hate crime, a homophobic hate crime, and an examination of all the unconsciousness that this entails. Paul Blair gives a very convincing performance of a man whose life has been blighted by one moment of inaction, a man who has accepted the consequences of his life. He is meek and gentle and yet there is an undercurrent of darkness, of anger. Only in a couple of places does the latter surface and it could perhaps have been prepared a little better in advance, or toned down a little as it was not quite believable that Molly could have been so accepting of this side of Ray.
Perhaps also there could have been a bit more turmoil in Molly. The irrational in Molly is highlighted via her reaction to Ray’s crime, her inability to empathise, although she understands the cultural and social factors that led to it. Abi Titmuss, it must be said, gives a very convincing performance of this role, of the outwardly successful person who lives by and believes in certain social and moral codes. However, given that she sets out to seek something of her former self at the beginning of the play Titmuss might have injected a little more uncertainty to her role.
The action all takes place on a lovely little set of a planked boardwalk with rushes surrounding and two street lamps that light the monologues respectively, with both players present on stage at all times.
By the end, we get the feeling that it is better to get involved at a deeper level with the fabric of life and ourselves rather than leave unwanted parts of ourselves behind. For although Ray has a lot to deal with it seems this is his making, and Molly by not embracing all that she is, is the poorer, despite all outward appearances.
All in all these are very polished performances and bring out the poetry of Stephen Belber’s play very successfully.