UNFAITHFUL Traverse, Edinburgh


Middle-aged man in a hotel bar, having a drink after work; miniskirted girl hits on him, shameless, provocative – “do you want to fuck me?”  Next thing we know, his frumpish wife is furious, so seeks revenge by donning a red dress and heels and hiring a gigolo in the same hotel.
Ho hum, you think,  here we go again. Dark drama of middle-class passion and potential bunny-boiling. But actually, Owen Mc Cafferty’s  80 minute four-hander, directed by Rachel O’Riordan, is far subtler than that. And despite a few slowdown moments near the end, it is an interesting take. Significantly that first scene is heralded by a screaming discordant siren sound effect, the final moment with a smooth love song. For by devious means,  via nude moments and startlingly explicit verbal sex descriptions, it winds to a satisfying conclusion about the glumly transactional nature of raw sex and the rather deeper, trickier need for intimacy which lies beneath any bonking.



For both couples are in trouble. Tom is a working man, a decent plumber, played with beautiful finedrawn dryness by Benny Young. He is having a crisis about being 57 and wondering ‘is this it? In a worn-down marriage he hardly talks to his wife. She (Cara Kelly, solid and formidable ) is becoming bitter, stroppy, critical, nursing that mid-life sense of waste. She is almost hungering for a solid, resent-able betrayal and a revenge.
Whether she gets either is something we only slowly find out, by way of an interlude with the younger pair (Gary McCann’s set, apparently stark, proves more complex than it seemed at first, nicely reflecting the fact that McCafferty’s tale does the same).  Owen Whitelaw is vibrant, spring-heeled, cocky and ultimately vulnerable as the gigolo, Ameira Darwish touching as the girl: very young in her breakable brittleness, a good but desperate liar.  So despite some slowing, I warmed to it. And as the older couple thaw, there is one particular very good laugh to be had – as our relief at the lightening tone matches theirs. It’s about a certain squarehead Doyle, and is a pleasingly Scottish football moment, for all that the author is an Abbey Dublin man…
box office 0131 228 1434 To 24 Aug.

rating:  three    3 Meece Rating

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