Review: Power Play – Next Time

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Power Play
Published 10 Aug 2018

If you believe that theatre should entertain on some level, then this play from Offie-nominated Jess Moore isn't for you. It's incredibly hard work. Set in real time, it follows a woman as she plans and ultimately attempts to leave an abusive relationship. We're shown the various obstacles that lie before her in these moments, but for the most part, this is a harrowing hour in the company of a mute, sobbing and hyperventilating victim. We long to help and comfort her, but can only look on powerless. A sadly inevitable ending does nothing to penetrate the dour atmosphere.

It's hard to imagine why anyone would choose to see this, other than to share in a collective understanding that domestic abuse is a terrible social ill. Beyond the increasingly menacing use of Hot Chocolate's 'You Sexy Thing' as the protagonist's ring tone—emphasising the banality of evil each time her persistent husband calls—very few interesting theatrical devices are employed. Next Time is a no-frills depiction of a woman recovering from a beating, staged in an authentic New Town bedroom.

Its sole cast member conveys helplessness and crushed spirit, but has little room to truly impress. After taking her bows, she presents us with a series of statistics on domestic abuse and sends us back out into the world, freshly horrified. Is there a market for this sort of thing?