Tim Price discusses his new play, For Once

The Pentabus production examines the impact of a car crash on the sole survivor

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Tim Price discusses his new play, For Once

Jonathan Smith as Sid in For Once

Shropshire’s Pentabus Theatre has earned a shelfload of awards for its imaginative and challenging productions of stories set in rural areas. Television writer Tim Price’s debut play, For Once, is a case in point. Set in Wales, it’s about the impact of a car crash in a country lane on the family of the only survivor. The director is Orla O’Loughlin, former artistic director of Pentabus, and her six years with the company enabled her to introduce Price to Pentabus’ local community, the very rural and very foodie town of Ludlow. In the course of research, Price visited an abattoir and worked a shift in a local Michelin-starred kitchen.

‘The two biggest stories in Ludlow,’ he says, ‘are probably its food, and its teen death toll on countryside roads. I explore how these two might be related.’ O’Loughlin is pleased with the result, praising Price’s humour, enthusiasm and commitment and saying that the development process felt like a culmination of much of her work with the company.

The play takes the form of integrated monologues, a new writing trope that contemporary playwrights can’t seem to tear themselves away from. Price engagingly admits that he ‘usually hates’ monologues, but he commends O’Loughlin for recognising that, in a piece about family members isolated from each other, they seemed – for once – appropriate. O’Loughlin is now artistic director of the Traverse, Scotland’s cauldron for new writing, where she’s determined to keep renewing the tradition of producing new work: ‘The new will one day be the classic and we have a duty as artists to keep the canon ongoing and relevant.’ Price, meanwhile, seems bracingly unafraid of big subjects. His next play is about the Welsh upbringing of interned US soldier Bradley Manning.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 4–Sat 14 Apr.

For Once

Darkly comic debut play by Tim Price, set in a small town overturned by a tragedy. Scottish premiere courtesy of Pentabus Theatre.

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