Published: 12 January, 2012
by RUSSELL PARTON
This one-act drama by Scottish playwright Murray Watts portrays the breakdown of a marriage with unrelenting anguish.
Shelley is an insecure and volatile cynic with a drink problem, her husband Laurie a “hopeless optimist”.
The action takes place over one evening in the couple’s crumbling Tower House in rural Scotland.
It begins with the couple awaiting dinner party guests, Shelley with unexplained dread and Laurie in a state of nervous anticipation.
A series of rows and half-reconciliations ensue, Shelley brimming with self-loathing while her husband desperately looks to salvage the situation and their relationship.
To depict the dog days of a marriage is no easy feat, but, as the play’s title suggests, Watts attempts to go beyond this and to explore the boundary at which hope becomes delusion.
While there’s some punchy dialogue here, the play falls short of its ambitious aims.
There’s not even the slightest moment of levity to provide contrast to the gloom and broaden the emotional range of the play. Instead, it runs the gamut of negative emotions.
Although well-acted throughout, the script lacks psychological depth, all too often compensating with shock tactics as the audience learn more about the couple’s disturbing past.
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