Black Mountain, Roundabout at Summerhall, Review

Submitted by Jon Cross on Sat, 12 Aug '17 10.12am
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Paines Plough, Theatr Clywd and Orange Tree Theatre
James Grieve (director), Brad Birch (writer)
Katie Elin-Salt, Hasan Dixon, Sally Messham
Running time

Rebecca and Paul have come out to the country to stay in an isolated house in the middle of a forest in the shadow of a mountain. They have come to find some space and to talk, but to talk about what, and will it do any good?

They don’t quite seem to know where they are or even how they got there, and they have the spent the first night in separate bedrooms. There is no food in the place and no-one has left any information about the house. The place is cold. The neighbours seem to be away.

Such is the starting point for this psychological drama which is well-suited to the performance space of the Roundabout at Summerhall where the clever use of lighting effects adds greatly to the tension.

At first, there is a mutual reluctance to confront whatever it is that has happened, but it soon becomes pretty clear what Paul has done. Rebecca, plaintive and querulous, wants him to talk about it, to explain his feelings and actions, but he seems unable to find the words. Even if he could, he has inflicted on her a hurt so deep and so profound that it will never go away. What she wants most now is fairness – that he should know a lasting pain as great as hers. For Paul, things only get worse when someone else appears, also wanting answers.

This piece is at its best in the sparky exchanges between the increasingly exasperated couple. Their disintegrating relationship has reached a point where it is no longer possible for anyone to say anything right; they can talk all they want, but they can no longer communicate.

The various melodramatic elements, which unfortunately include the uncertain ending, are a lot less satisfying.

All three actors in this triangle give convincing rounded performances, but Katie Elin-Salt, in particular, is terrific as the troubled Rebecca.

August 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 13:25, Age: 14+