Clare Sinclair has mixed feelings about Peapod Productions' new play.
Walking into the Tron’s Victorian Bar, the stage is set for Peapod Productions’ rom-com Passing Through: beer mats with post-it instructions for the audience, sitting around tables as Philip Kingscott and Anna Guthrie give fragmented instructions for the coming audience participation. The performance begins simply, with all music coming from a ghetto blaster placed centre stage as all the action happens around it.
Kingscott plays Tommy – a nervous magician having just escaped from a booking in a rough pub full of punters expecting a Motorhead tribute act, who bumps into a rain-sodden Alice (rain provided by an audience member with a watering can) played by Guthrie. And from here we see an unlikely alliance as the two bumble along in typical rom-com style until they realise they’re meant for each other.
The romantic comedy story has been done to death, yet there’s no shortage of reincarnations and Passing Through is no different. Unfortunately, Alistair Rutherford brings little we haven’t seen before to the genre, instead leaving us watching characters with little likeability. Andy Corelli’s direction becomes muddled in a set which is too simplistic for the performance’s needs; with one space needing to portray a variety of pubs, the SECC and coffee shops, the result is messy and dizzying as the actors literally run circles around a central table. A close knit and small-scale piece requires real focus from the performers, and yet what we’re left with is a play which is far too over-acted and full of awkward feeling intimacy. Yet with audience participation there will always be moments of unexpected brilliance – and the excitement of one audience member as she spotted Kingscott’s black and pink socks provided the biggest laugh of the night, and deservedly so.
Passing Through completes its tour March 2nd.