It is fascinating to consider the amount of stories that evolve during one single train journey. People may be breaking up, making up or meeting for the first time. They could be happy, upset, or taking the journey to quietly reflect. No two train journeys are the same. Hundreds of people are sat within centimetres of each other, all leading different lives and yet more often than not, we have no idea about the life of the person sitting directly next to us. One of Those by Tom Ward-Thomas follows two conversations that happen on a train from London to Penzance.
For Laura (Amy Newton) and James (Tom Ward- Thomas ), their conversation begins when Laura asks him the spelling of bureaucracy for her crossword. Noticing James is reading The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, she cheekily asks him to try and find the spelling of the word in the 600-odd page novel. From this moment on the two seem to click. The conversation is a mixture of flirtation and arguing, hilariously making fun of each other at every chance they get. The pair increasingly share more and more intimate details about their lives and the combination of quick wit and awkward moments makes the conversation feel very real. Neither are living a typical twenty year old’s life, and when telling their stories, they appear to try and justify mistakes or decisions they’ve made. At times the pair offend each other and say the wrong thing, but when leaving, it is clear they hope to see each other again.
Another train carriage is occupied by Philip (Martin Ball) and Davina (Emma Kelly), who by their frequent bursts of PDA appear to be on a romantic weekend away. Until, that is, Philip’s wife Alice (Louise Bangay) shows up unannounced. Alice, Philip and Davina have a journey filled with tension, upset and uncomfortable chat, and Ward-Thomas’ comedy is often found in moments of awkwardness. Amy Ewbank’s direction captures these moments brilliantly without making them too over done and Alice’s reaction on finding out about her husband’s affair is wonderfully scripted and executed.
The simple structure of the piece makes it very easy to watch, and Ward-Thomas’ writing is funny, honest and extremely sharp. The overhead announcements about paninis make it clear the two stories have happened at the same time, but it is only very near the end of the piece that we learn the two situations are in fact linked.
Martin Ball, as always, gives a fantastic performance but the piece is perfectly casted throughout.
One of Those is playing the Tristan Bates Theatre until 13 February. For more information and tickets, see www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk