IT TAKES a while to emerge, the reason for the brief encounter that forms the action of Catrin Evans’s first Oran Mor play.
* * * *
On a busy station concourse, Ella has arranged to meet Mike, with whom she had a teenage affair many years ago. Both are now parents, with happy family lives; and she is quick to reassure him that she isn’t going to spring the news that she had a child by him, or that she has a life-threatening illness which she might have passed on.
Yet the accusation, when it comes, makes the reason for her hesitation all too obvious; and what follows is a painfully precise conversation about what happens when culture and language change in the middle of people’s lives, leaving them adrift in a world where they can no longer think of themselves as they once did.
In Evans’s powerful and beautifully structured 45-minute play, the word in question is “rape”; and sometimes, the dialogue seems to wander into the dangerous country already explored in David Mamet’s Oleanna, as if Ellen is only using the rape allegation to vent her anger over the fact that Mike betrayed and then dumped her.
The play is at its oustanding best, though, when it squarely faces the possibility that Ella and Mike are both nice people, caught in a devastating impasse by their own youthful confusion, and by society’s disgraceful reluctance, until very recently, to define all non-consensual sex as rape.
Colin McCredie is excellent as Mike, first shocked and angry, then traumatised; Louise Ludgate is in dazzling form as Ella, determined to confront her past at any cost. And Vari Sylvester, as an older lady who shares their station bench, provides a vital third dimension, like a guardian angel bent on ensuring that, however traumatic their meeting, they both get home safely.
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