The City (4 stars)

The City

A woman meets a writer she admires at a train station and is thrilled to be invited for coffee with him; her husband, meanwhile, has recently lost his job and is confused about his wife’s coldness towards him; a nurse who lives nearby turns up on their doorstep to complain about the noise their children make in the garden when she’s trying to sleep. Gradually, themes emerge from these fragmented encounters – suburban alienation, a fear of intimacy, disappointment – but the play’s through-line is a palpable sense of communication breakdown, embodied in the husband’s desperate cry to his wife of ‘What is it you’re trying to say?’

The characters in Martin Crimp’s play converse in a way that is unfamiliar from acceptable maxims of conversation, imparting anecdotes in reverse and leaving out the most crucial information until the last possible moment. There’s a neat ‘explanation’ at the end of the play that relates to the artist’s struggle to coherently turn real life into stories, but this is not really the most important or compelling aspect of the piece. The fact that we as the audience wish to understand and impose a narrative on these disjointed scenes is a huge compliment to Crimp’s writing – which creates the sense of unease you might find in a psychological thriller – and the believable performances from the four-strong cast.

Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 6 Mar

The City

  • 4 stars

Selina Boyack, Gabriel Quigley and Ronnie Simon star in Martin Crimp's three-hander about contemporary urban life. Directed by Andy Arnold.

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