Part of the Old Vic New Voices Edinburgh Season, One Hour Only is written by Sabrina Mahfouz and presented by Made From Scratch Theatre Company. It shines a light on the darkness of prostitution and young people. Marley, a forensic biology student has taken a job in a brothel to pay her way through university. Her East London background growing up in a poor family, coupled with her desire to be independent, has led her to a darkened room where she waits for her first client. AJ meanwhile, a university hopeful supporting his family by driving taxis, has been given an hour of pleasure as a birthday treat from friends. When Marley and AJ meet, things don’t quite go to plan.
As a play, there is much to contend with beneath the surface of Mahfouz’ writing. Young people finding their independence, the shocking lengths they go to survive and better themselves, and indeed the dark lure of prostitution. It’s a bold and gallant play, and whilst it doesn’t quite hit the mark (it never quite gets beneath the ideas it is portraying) it’s a sound production.
Matt Wilde does well with the direction to bring out the characters of Marley and AJ. There’s some light humour, and Mahfouz develops some great sexual chemistry as well as delivering upon the bigger suggestions of desire, progression, and young people preserving their hopes. The cast do well, and become increasingly enjoyable to watch as the play progresses, although Francesca Reidy’s design – a back wall illuminated with LED light – gets a bit distracting, even if it is practical in terms of representing a room in a brothel.
One Hour Only is at times predictable, but it does also give an enjoyable hour at the otherwise chaotic Edinburgh Fringe. It won’t blow you away, but it might offer a glimpse into some promising writing talent of tomorrow.
*** 3/5 Stars
One Hour Only is playing at Underbelly as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 26th August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.