Good With People (4 stars)

Good With People

David Harrower two hander pushes the right buttons

No one, arguably, in Scottish theatre, creates tension quite like playwright David Harrower. This bone dry comedy deals in his very specific themes: class, education and the way the past has a tendency to sneak in uninvited into present-day interactions.

But where his controversial Blackbird had an uncomfortable older man / younger girl relationship at its core, the focus here is on older landlady Helen (Louise Ludgate) owner of a shabby Helensburgh hotel and mysterious younger guest Evan (Daniel Cahill), just returned from voluntary nursing in war zones.

Immediately, it becomes clear that the two aren't in fact strangers, but there is unfinished business. Soon, the buttoned-up Helen expects accountability from her surly patron for past misdemeanours against her family, but Evan isn't biting.

The shadow of Faslane naval base looms large, almost like a supporting character, and Rosa Duncan's pinprick direction allows both Harrower's elliptical language, and the uneasy sexual tension, to simmer.

Whether dissecting the breakdown of the nuclear family unit, or the problems with holding onto a small-town mentality, Harrower's script has real weight, and the two brilliantly restrained performances here push all the right buttons.

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, Tue 12 Nov–Sat 16 Nov.