Theatre review: Passing Through, Tron Theatre Victorian Bar, Glasgow

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IT MAY seem a strange thing to say; but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of theatre more completely harmless than this latest show from the shoestring group Peapod Productions, of Edinburgh.

Touring theatre bars in Bathgate and Berwick this week, Passing Through is a short romantic comedy by Alistair Rutherford, as undemanding as the day is long; and at a mere 65 minutes, it doesn’t even make much of a claim on your time.

The hero, Tommy, is a young would-be magician, eking out a living from brief appearances in pubs and cafés; there’s a little lightweight audience participation, to add to the fun. When he first meets Alice – who blows into the bar after being stood up – Tommy is still linked, if only loosely, to his girlfriend and stage assistant Tracy, a loud sort who seems tempted by the attentions of a big man with a ponytail in a pub called The Dockers.

The story which follows takes an entirely predictable course, as Tommy and Alice disentangle themselves from the wrong partners, and end up together. Some of the writing is bright, perky, observant, with an occasional shimmer of pure conjurors’ magic; elsewhere, it labours its point a bit, notably when the ghastly Richard drags poor Alice to a science-fiction geeks’ convention at the SECC.

Anna Guthrie gives a lovely performance as Alice, a bit damaged, but easily redeemed; Philip Kingscott is unfailingly lovable as shy Tommy, in his Harry Potter specs. And at the end, the audience is bound to utter a big “aw” of delight; as the happy couple melt into a sweet little kiss, as gentle and unthreatening as everything else about this jolly but forgettable show.

Rating: ***