THE Barn Theatre's latest production, a revival of One Minute, by playwright Simon Stephens, opened this week and is as far removed from cosy, comfortable theatre as it is possible to get.

If the inaugural production of The Secret Garden sent the audience into the night with a tear in their eye and a warm sense of bonhomie, One Minute sent us away startled, unnerved but aware that we had watched something real and raw unfold before us thanks in part to a brilliant cast.

For his directorial debut, Iwan Lewis could have played it safe, but he has chosen instead a much braver path and presented us with a complex character piece, where raw emotion often takes centre stage.

Like watching a Scandi noir, the challenge for the audience comes in trying to understand the complex characters, whose chain smoking, excessive drinking, swearing, outbursts of anger and neurosis hint at dark recesses.

Even before the play starts the audience are transported to the streets of London, with sirens and horns echoing around the theatre. We are lifted away from Cirencester and into the metropolis. And throughout the play we remain firmly rooted in the Capital, thanks to the use of inspired projection from set designer PJ McEvoy.

One Minute follows the stories of five characters who become united after the disappearance in London of a child, 10-year old Daisy Schults.

We follow several connected characters through their struggles with her disappearance: two policemen who investigate the disappearance, DI Gary Burroughs (Gary Summers) and DC Robert Evans (Jack Bence), Daisy’s mother Anne (Rebecca Crankshaw), Marie Louise (Sophie May Wake), a woman who believes she saw Daisy after she had been separated from her mother and barmaid Catherine (Sarah Hanley) who is caught up in it all through her uncomfortable links with Marie Louise and Burroughs.

This is emotional territory and all the actors bring an intensity to the stage that leaves us reeling. All characters have their own battles and demons, and this experienced cast (made up of familiar faces from stage and screen) ensure that this is a compelling watch.

With this latest piece The Barn Theatre has shown that it is not afraid to use its productions to challenge the audience.

If The Secret Garden had a dream-like quality, One Minute is shouting at the audience and Cirencester to wake up!

One Minute runs until June 16

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Review Score


Review by Charlotte Shepherd