Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Powerful monologues from the earthy northern playwright Duncan Battman that explore love, loss and the proclivity of humanity to press the self-destruct button.
Maybe it’s endemic in the northern psyche but humour never seems to be far from the surface, even in those dealing with the most tragic of losses or facing self-destruction in the face.
In these two hard-hitting but at times darkly humorous monologues from Duncan Battman, we meet Audrey and Mick, both seeking resolution but finding nothing in the bottom of their respective glasses.
A Woman’s Sin finds fifty-something Audrey alone in a bar following the wedding of her estranged son, recounting how and why her life went wrong. The same bar provides the backdrop for Me and Ray (The Other Lowry) where Mick cradles a pint and a concealed bottle of whisky as he drowns his sorrows after attending the funeral of Ray Lowry, one of Britain’s leading rock’n’roll cartoonists, who drank himself into the grave in 2008.
No punches are pulled in the exploration of how and why both Audrey and Mick slowly and inexorably destroyed their lives, turning increasingly to the comfort of alcohol to take away their largely self-inflicted wounds. It’s a clear demonstration, if one was needed, of the thin dividing line that each of us tread in our own lives between order and disorder, success and failure, creation and destruction.
Janet Slade and Mark Butt give powerful and, at times, very moving, performances. They are both at one with their respective characters, cleverly lightening the mood using Battman’s dark and occasionally self-deprecating asides. And they are not afraid of using silence as a means of reflection for their alter-egos and a chance for the (small) audience to appreciate the demons that they are both battling with.
It’s yet another example that I’ve seen this Fringe of the many pieces of good drama currently playing to very small attendances which is a great shame, as work of this quality deserves to be more widely appreciated. Perhaps, though, in these straitened times, we don’t need reminding that life is like walking a tight rope and we’re seeking something to lighten the mood instead.