One Under Review

Leeds Playhouse – until 9 November 2019

Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood


One Under, a Graeae Theatre Company and Theatre Royal Plymouth’s production comes to the Leeds Playhouse. This play premiered in Plymouth and is currently on a national tour visiting nine theatres including this one. Graeae Theatre Company takes pride in making their productions accessible and this performance is captioned and described audibly.

Written by Winsome Pinnock and under the direction of Amit Sharma, One Under is about Cyrus (Stanley J. Browne) who is drawn to finding the young man who jumped in front of the train that he was driving. Ridden with guilt and his driven search for recompense he is led to Christine (Clare-Louise English), a laundrette worker, and other characters including Nella (Shenagh Govan) and Zoe (Evlyne Oyedokun) whose lives are changed forever following what happened to Sonny (Reece Pantry).

The play explores how fragile and vulnerable human relationships are and highlights that one doesn’t know what is happening people’s lives behind closed doors. This production includes strong emotions such as guilt and regrets which interlink with mental health and wellbeing, relationships, circumstances and timings. The 90 minute play unravels with the past prior to the tragedy and how it directly and indirectly affects the characters concerned, evocatively linking with the past and the present.

Set to Amelia Jane Hankin’s staging there is a lot of content packed into this short play which gives one food for thought particularly around mental health and the importance to look out for one another particularly any signs or triggers. It reminds that appearances don’t exclusively sum up to how one feels and an awareness to support those personally and professionally who are affected.

An intensive play layered with meaning and emotion, One Under, is well delivered by a five person cast who portray the characters well. One Under is part of three plays that specifically focuses on men’s health and wellbeing, which are being staged during November up to the run up of the Northern Man Festival. This festival is produced jointly with the Playhouse and a partnership consortium of Leeds community development organisations and is going to take place on 16th November 2019.