by Owen McCafferty
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Last year Owen McCafferty won a Fringe First in Edinburgh for his play, Quietly. He returns to the Traverse this year with a sharp four-hander examining the reality of relationships – the unspoken desires, the piercing regrets, and the postponed conversations.
Unfaithful opens in a flashy hotel bar where Tom (Benny Young), a middle-aged plumber, drinks pints after work to delay going home to his wife. Tara (Amiera Darwish), an attractive student dropout tells him she wants to have sex with him. She’s the same age as his daughter, but insists there are no rules. Tom’s actions with Tara spark a sequence of accusations and lies that leads his frustrated wife Joan (Cara Kelly) to seek revenge in the same hotel with male escort Peter (Owen Whitelaw). What unfolds is a frank and acute story about our closest relationships, betrayal and humanness.
Unfaithful does not simply examine the notion of adultery but rather highlights our devastating inability to communicate with one another and asks just how far we will go to break free from the tedium of our daily lives. Director, Rachel O’Riordan keeps the production grounded and down to earth. Its treatment of sex is awkward and its reality of adultery, unglamorous. Designer, Garry McCann’s set made up of series of grey sleek, impersonal spaces mirror the emptiness of the characters lives but the large rotating set takes too long between scenes and impedes an otherwise slick production.
McCafferty’s keen observation of the human heart makes for well crafted characters and beautiful dialogue. He tells beautiful stories: simple and utterly convincing and Unfaithful is no different.
A touching and sensitive look at relationships and all that goes with them.