This review was originally written for The Public Review.
A short flash of a car crash scene starts the show. This barely registers before things move on to the next scene. Then a combination of movements, mood lighting and music sketches out the hectic lifestyle of Leila and a rather more relaxed Shahab. This is followed by yet more character outlining with a photo album slideshow of their life and upbringing. This long, dragged out scene setting eventually brings us to the car crash itself and the development of their relationship from that point onwards.
This is a pseudo tale of the tenuous link between people and how path cross and change lives. It is told with a mixture of physical theatre, mood pieces and as a conventional two hander. The piece began life as a workshop piece and it shows. Some scenes are silent, some with voice over while others are verbose. The mixture, and sometimes mismatch of style and emphasis creates an uneven and imbalanced work.
There are a few beautifully observed moments of social awkwardness, played out with great timing and rapport between the two performers which are very funny. However, the narrative and backstory are unconvincing. Both characters who started with quite different and contrasting lives remain so throughout and the play lacks the depth to show the relevance of that contrast. Various shorter scenes have a beauty to them with lighting designed by Greg Mickelborough and sound collaboratively designed by the production team. However, the clumsiness of the narrative structure, such as the photo album scene which bookends the play, sticks out.
The play does without props apart from a table and two chairs but some of the mimed actions are not entirely clear and require inferences and/or dialog from elsewhere to point out there meaning. The writer Rachel Blackman, who plays Leila is perfect in her voice and mannerism with Leila’s nerviness and awkward over eagerness. Jules Munns as Shahab is suitably shifty but not always consistent in his portrayal. Unfortunately, the overall shortcomings of the play cannot be surmounted by the more successful elements and this tale of unlikely friendship remain unlikely to the end.