Charlotte Pegram reviews Replay at the Pleasance, Edinburgh
We meet ‘W’ just after she’s been hit with a bad case of food poisoning. She’s a policewoman and the sickness overwhelms her while she’s mid-shift. It’s unfortunate that she’s been struck down with illness just now as she’s about to be interviewed for a promotion – she’s tipped to be the youngest sergeant in the metropolitan force. She seems to have everything it takes; the commitment, the drive, the intelligence, but her boss says she just need to relax a little, be a bit more herself around the team.
This play perfectly highlights how much our public selves can differ from the reality of our private lives. The calm, collected person W presents to the rest of the world is struggling to comes to terms with her brother’s death, even though many years have passed. As is the case so often, it seems impossible to know where to start in telling others how we really feel.
Written and performed by Nicola Wren, the play moves forwards and backwards in time, reliving the important moments in her relationship with her brother. Wren perfectly captures the precise, methodical nature of this workaholic policewoman, allowing the audience regular bursts of laughter at her super-rational approach to living. Her attempt at smiling at a guy on the tube is painfully funny; you don’t need to know a police officer to know a character like W. Wren also plays W’s younger self with as much conviction, presenting a 10 year old who loves mood rings and mars bars in a way that seems to truly capture that pre-teen innocence.
Almost without noticing it, Wren’s performance has entirely captivated the audience. We don’t feel sorry for her because we’re too busy following every step of the story. It’s only towards the end when we are given time to think about all she has been through that the full emotional impact of the play hits you.
This play is so important in addressing issues of grief, but it’s an exceptional play in its own right.
P.S. Take tissues.