There are two ways of travelling round the country really. The first is solo – car, bike, horse – and the second involves being stuck in some form of metal box travelling along with a bunch of strangers for a period of time. Normally not a problem, this is the reason iPods, tablets and the good old fashioned paperback were invented but sometimes, events conspire against the traveller and they are forced to interact with others going the same way. This the is the premise for Tom Ward-Thomas’ play One of Those premiering at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London’s Covent Garden.
On a very quiet train speeding from London to Penzance in Cornwall, two very different sets of people are making their journey to the South West. In one carriage we find Laura (Amy Newton) and James (Tom Ward-Thomas). James is reading a book and Laura is doing a crossword puzzle. After a while, she looks up and asks James “how do you spell bureaucracy?”. This opening leads the two of them to start a conversation that takes them very rapidly from complete strangers to two young people who maybe know a bit too much about each other but for whom, there may, just may, be a glimmer of something good coming over the cornish horizon.
In the next carriage, there are two people who – ging by their excessive PDAs – definitely knew each other before they got on the train. London lawyer Philip (Martin Bell) is on this journey with his mistress Davina (Emma Kelly) to his farm for a weekend of fun and frolics amongst the sheep or something similar. Unfortunately for the two canoodling love birds, a storm is about to change their plans as into their carriage walks Alice (Louise Bangay), middle-aged, middle-class and, oh yes, Philip’s wife. Although initially they try to play things in a very reserved British way, it is fairly obvious that this journey is going to be a turning point for all three of these unfortunate travellers.
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Going to be honest here, I thoroughly enjoyed One of Those. On entering the auditorium and seeing the wonderful set – designed by Matt James – which instantly brought back memories of all the journeys I used to do by train, I had a feeling that this was going to be a good show, and I was right. Tom Ward-Thomas has a real knack for writing believable people in realistic scenarios. Although there was an element of coincidence in these five people all being on the same train at the same time, it was actually perfectly logical that they were – especially at that penny dropping moment when I realised that in reality there was more going on than I had initially thought.
Amy and Tom had the most laughs in their initial scene as Laura and James – both very young but with possibly too much knowledge of certain elements of the world – and their conversations moving from the curiosity that comes of being stuck on a train for a long time with a stranger and then moving on to a bit of flirting, some flattery, insults and finally a potential promise of something were beautifully written and delivered by the two actors.
Of course, you wouldn’t expect a scene with a husband, his wife and his mistress to be full of laughs and indeed this wasn’t though there were some lovely little moments that made the audience chuckle but Martin, Emma and Louise really play the scene honestly – with the two ladies at one point even bonding over Philip’s lack of understanding about sculpture. In fact, in spite of their difference in appearance – Davina with her knee length boots and shimmering tight dress and Alice in sensible country garb – I could imagine the two of them being friends under better circumstances. Even though he was a chap, I have to say I felt no sympathy whatsoever for Philip – who was a tad too whiny and self absorbed to make me like him (nice acting there from Martin).
Back in the good old days, the BBC used to produce a series called ‘Play for Today’ and if they ever were thinking of reviving this, then One of Those would definitely be a contender. It feels like it is very British play – though not in the Downton mould – and this is a real bonus. The superb writing and excellent directing by Amy Ewbank along with a great cast, work really well and this is definitely one of those shows where I cared about everyone and wanted to know where they went after the train had stopped.
Review by Terry Eastham
On a long, quiet train journey to Cornwall, James and Laura meet for the first time. Meanwhile, in the next carriage, Philip and Davina are looking forward to their first weekend away together, only to be confronted by Philip’s wife.
One of Those, a fast paced comedy by Tom Ward-Thomas, challenges the classical stereotypes of age and background and explores the exciting beginnings of one relationship against the desperate cartwheels of another, with scenes switching between the past and present as the audience views the stages of their relationship from different perspectives.
One of Those premieres in a three-week season at Tristan Bates Theatre from Tuesday January 26th – Saturday February 13th, 2016.
Cast: Martin Ball (his West End musicals include The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Wicked, Mamma Mia and Top Hat); Louise Bangay (Folk with Tom Morris at the NT Studio, Trevor Nunn’s productions of Cyrano de Bergerac at Chichester and Rock ‘n’ Roll at The Royal Court and Duke of York’s); Tom Ward-Thomas (Tartuffe at the Canal Café Theatre, David Cameron in The New Prime Minister at the Cochrane Theatre). Amy Newton (Cake and Congo at Theatre503), Emma Kelly (Queen Margaret in Henry VI: Play of Thrones at the Union Theatre, Em in Public Displays of Affection at Soho Theatre and she covered and played Sophie in Mamma Mia! in the West End).
Amy Ewbank (Director) is Artistic Director of Doll’s Eye Theatre. Her credits include: The Forbidden at The Canvas and Philip Ridley New Writing Premieres at the Old Red Lion.
Tom Ward-Thomas (Writer). One of Those is Tom’s debut as a playwright and he currently has two feature films in development, The Convict and Artist’s Retreat, and a new TV sitcom.
Produced by United Theatrical and Trapdoor Productions
ONE OF THOSE
TRISTAN BATES THEATRE
1A Tower Street
London, WC2H 9NP
Tuesday 26th January – Saturday 13th February 2016