Shopping Centre by Matthew Osborne

***

Last year I reviewed Matthew Osborne’s play Cul-de-Sac favourably. However, I do have a real problem with his solo performance play this year. In the Fringe booklet it is billed as a Comedy but this is most certainly not the case. It is a taut, psychological drama.

Matthew Osborne takes on the role of Jim, an ordinary working class individual in his thirties but seriously mentally disturbed. We can begin to get an inkling of his psychotic personality at the outset when he expresses a feeling for things rather than people in an almost sexual way. His mental descent plunges deeper when little by little we learn of the failure of his marriage.

The play is set in an underground basement in a shopping centre which has become his spiritual home. He has become a rejected loner with all manner of strange delusions. It is, at times, uncomfortable to watch and such subject matter is not going to result in a bundle of laughs.

Rioting has broken out above and, when he produces a gun, it is obvious what he intends to do. In modern times, one of our worst fears would be for us or our loved ones to be caught up in a random act of violence – again, no laughing matter. Nevertheless, on the plus side, Matthew Osborne’s performance is striking and sustained throughout.

Reviewed by Ben

Gilded Balloon at Third Door; 24

1 to 26 August 2012 (not 13, 20)

16.30 – 17.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 319

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