For Once

Slipping into the smaller downstairs space for a regrettably short run, visiting company Pentabus has come up with a poignant little gem in the immaculately crafted shape of Tim Price’s 80 minute three-hander.

Something serious has happened to disturb the equilibrium in the household of forty something Gordon, his schoolteacher wife April and their 17 year old son Sid.

Price introduces us to his characters with a humorous touch which makes them instantly likeable. And, for them, personally, it could have been so much worse – Sid has lost an eye in a car accident, but his three closest friends lost their lives.

Addressed directly to the audience, their overlapping monologues reveal their current thoughts as well as recalling the events which preceded the crash. It soon becomes clear that, despite surface appearances, fracture lines were already forming before the tragic incident pushed them into a temporary unity.

Geraldine Alexander is extraordinary as April, sipping wine from a large glass as she goes about the mundane business of ironing her husband’s shirts, her face a myriad of expressions, whilst Patrick Driver is no less convincing as Gordon, a fundamentally decent man who finds himself irresistibly pulled elsewhere. And, completing the impressive trio (all trapped in different ways by the limitations of their small rural town) is Jonathan Smith’s Sid, as protective of his mother as she is of him, and trying to make sense of what has happened to him, his family and to the pointlessly bereaved parents of three teenage lads.


Michael Frayn Space at Hampstead, Eton Avenue, NW3 3EU
020 7722 9301
Tube: Swiss Cottage
Until July 30

– Louise Kingsley