Review – Passing Through

February 13, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

★★★☆☆

Scottish Storytelling Centre: Fri 10/Sat 11 Feb 2012
Review by Thom Dibdin

Pouring cold water over the exploits of an actor is not unheard of for a theatre critic. Pouring cold water over the lead actress by personal request – proper cold water in a watering can – is another matter entirely.

But then Passing Through, the latest small scale production from Edinburgh’s Peapod Productions, is packed with just such quirkiness and entertaining use of space and form, as Anna Guthrie and Philip Kingscott bring Alistair Rutherford’s sparkling little rom-com to life.

Anna Guthrie and Philip Kingscott in Peapod Productions’ Passing Through

There’s nothing too unusual in the plot, however. Kingscott is all nervous energy and worrisome angst as Tommy, a budding magician whose girlfriend Tracey is helping him out with his Ace of Spades stage act by performing as his gorgeous assistant and helping him get gigs.

Guthrie has a pugnacious charm as Alice, struggling to get her car-loving boyfriend Richard to treat her with as much respect as he treats his beloved motor. And discovering that his obsessive nature isn’t confined to vehicles when they set out for what she assumes will be the ultimate romantic weekend away.

Tommy and Alice’s meeting – while both sheltering in the pouring rain in an otherwise empty pub – sets the tone for the performance. Performed in a cabaret-style round, without raised stage, the audience become part of the set.

Choose any table with a pile of beer-mats on it, and you’ll be called in to action as the Dockers Club audience, to ping the mats at poor Tommy when you discover his isn’t a Motorhead tribute act. Choose the table with the watering can? And that cold water will come showering down on Alice as she hangs around for Richard. Now also known as Dick.

Elevated into the unusual

Under Andy Corelli’s direction these moments – and there are several more – elevate the production into the unusual. It works because of the nature of Tommy’s act. Tabletop magic is all about the patter and interaction with an audience, so as the scene moves from the pub to a cafe chain where Tommy hopeful of getting a permanent gig, the scope for continuing the interaction is kept on. And while it could go even further when Alice and Richard go off for their romantic weekend, Corelli doesn’t succumb to the temptation to take it too far.

What he hasn’t quite done is bring out enough of a differentiation between Anna Guthrie’s characters. It’s partly in the writing, as Rutherford focusses on his male characters more than the female, but there is easy scope to develop Tracey’s character much more. Where Kingscott gets every opportunity to create the true geek who lies at Richard’s core, Guthrie doesn’t have similar opportunity to work on Tracey’s character.

If this somehow echoes the relationship between a magician and their assistant, Kingscott has done a good job in working on his magic tricks. You can believe that his character wouldn’t manage to convince the punters of his skills, but his sleight-of-hand is adroitly done.

A fun and entertaining evening out. Alistair Rutherford has a solid basis  if he wants to work on the script for the future, but there’s no need to pour cold water on what is there, whether in the performances or the production as a whole.

Running time: 1 hour.
Run ends Saturday 11 Feb 2012
Shows: 8pm.
Further details on the Peapod Productions website: www.peapodproductions.co.uk/

Passing Through on tour:
10 – 11 Feb
8pm
Edinburgh
The Scottish Storytelling Centre
0131 556 9579 Details
14 Feb
7.30pm
Inverness
Eden Court Theatre
01463 234 234 Book online
16 Feb
2.30pm & 7.30pm
Falkirk
FTH
01324 506850 Details
18 Feb
8pm
St Andrews
Byre Theatre
01334 475000 Book online
22 – 25 Feb
8.30pm
Glasgow
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267 Book online
2 Mar
8pm
Bathgate
The Regal Community Theatre
01506 630085 Book online
4 March Berwick-upon-Tweed
Maltings Theatre
01289 330 999 Book online

ENDS

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