Nasty, Brutish and Short ***


Traverse Theatre Company/National Theatre of Scotland Debuts, Edinburgh
Thursday 6th November – Saturday 15th November 2008

Following The Dogstone (see review below) in the National Theatre of Scotland’s Traverse Debuts is Nasty, Brutish and Short by Andy Duffy. The first thing that is extremely intriguing about this production is Naomi Wilkinson set – a typical run down flat in Glasgow, but everything is in a couple of inches of cold water. Wilkinson’s set truly reflects Duffy’s play, as the dynamic between the characters is always shifting – like the safety of having lights and electronic equipment dangling over water. The fuzzy sound of the electronic equipment and water mixing is used throughout the production and continues to remind the audience to constantly be tense.

The story involves Luke (James Young) and Mary Jane (Ashley Smith), a young homeless couple, turning up at the door of Luke’s brother Jim’s (Martin Docherty) flat looking for shelter. Luke is recently released from psychiatric facility and Mary Jane is a young mother, who is given up her little girl and ran away from home. They do not find a comfortable shelter, like they wished, but Luke finds himself involved in Jim’s criminal dealings and Mary Jane finds herself the victim of Jim’s bullying and rape. All sounds very dramatic and depressing but what is played out is more of a psychological battle between these characters living on the edge of society and sanity.

All three actors begin with River City-Glaswegian accents, which have become so typical of any play set in Glasgow – yet eventually these accents became less of an issue. The resulting performances especially that of Ashley Smith, were horrifically moving. By the end the actors were drenched by the water and left crumpled in piles after the rape of Mary Jane and the extremely physical fight between the brothers.



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