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Edinburgh Fringe 2018

The Approach

Landmark Productions

Genre: Contemporary, Drama, New Writing

Venue: Assembly Hall


Low Down

“Three women. Three conversations. Listen carefully. A psychological puzzle and a quietly devastating tragedy, The Approach explores the inner lives of Anna, Cora and Denise as they desperately try to make sense of their world. What will their conversations reveal? And what does each of them have to hide?”


Three women having conversations spanning half a decade. Woven and connected and isolated and reconnected.

These are powerful stories spinning around each woman. The simplicity of the set allows these scenes to come into focus around them, as we step into and out of moments in time. This is a play about being human, not in the big achievements or grand gestures. But in the daily detail of existence.

Mark O’ Rowe wrote this play specifically to see these three actresses on stage. Cathy Belton, Derbhle Crotty and Aisling O’Sullivan, and there’s something special that happens when a play is written with the performers in mind, an aligning of creative mastery and brilliance. O’Rowe gets to the heart of something, that’s hard to define. But it gets you thinking. In fact, I’m still thinking about it.

Dizzying sometimes in its extreme stillness, The Approach takes us through slices of time unveiling relationship break ups, death of a partner, family betrayal. We have to lean forward, craning our necks as we piece together the puzzle. And even by the end we know we haven’t understood it all. Beautifully lit, the the floating disembodied chairs hovering above the stage are ominous and perplexing in their silence.

Never are the three women together on stage although we wait for it, yearn for that trio to connect. Perhaps we expect the sudden drama to reveal, the outburst, the change in tempo, but the writing firmly holds its ground here and to great reward. The pacing is interesting, fast yet creates a timeless feel. As each pair of women ‘chat’, it feels like we have been there at that coffee table with them for years. It takes nerve to keep a show this simple, confidence in the poetic and rich writing and the skilful performances of these three extraordinary actresses. The stripping down of this performance is like creating the white space around the canvas of a beautiful piece of art.

This is vital and powerful work. 

The rhythm and pacing of the dialogue is unique and intoxicating; drawing us into its tempo making it feel out of kilter with ‘normal’ conversation yet as a theatrical device to keep our attention is clean and effective.

Every day chatter cast against sudden confessions and that which is not said is powerful. Scenes mirror and echo deliciously and we end where we started. Bittersweet and reversed. We are defined by how we are in relation to the other and when the other shifts and changes we change too.

We are led through a dark tunnel and end up in front of a tableau spanning years, the light shining on moments….and in these moments we try to make sense of the bigger image. Which of course isn’t in the detail. It’s in the way we understand what’s important. Songs of men come and go, but friendship builds a tether across time.

This is woman in her prime, but only just realising it and weary of her own games, resilient lines carve through their strong beautiful cheekbones. These are faces and voices well lived.

This is a satisfying and excellent piece of theatre and highly recommended.