Ring Road

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan


SCHOOL teacher Lisa has recently turned 40. She’s childless and husband Paul’s low sperm count suggests they’ll stay that way. A bleak awareness of her biological clock running out of time has prompted Lisa to take desperate measures ...

This much you’ll discover in the opening moments of Anita Vettesse’s slyly skewed comedy, Ring Road. What might surprise you - as indeed it surprises her brother-in-law, Mark - is that he is the chosen solution to her problem. All he has to do is get her pregnant, and bingo! the baby will genuinely be part of the family gene pool.

When Ring Road was originally premiered at PPP, in April 2016, Angela D’Arcy and Martin Donaghy were the ‘will they/won't they?’ couple in a cheap motel. This revival, once again cannily paced and directed by Johnny McKnight, has writer Anita Vettesse as Lisa and Gavin Wright as Mark - and while the funny business of them grappling with close encounters of a sexual kind is hilariously handled, it’s in the moments of emotional confusion, embarrassment and conflicted loyalties that both performers scratch below the comedic surface and tellingly reveal their characters’ everyday disappointments and longings.

There’s an underlying twist: Mark works with - or actually for - brother Paul in his plumbing business. That doesn’t mean they’re close, so Paul’s phone-call, suddenly unburdening his marital woes - coincidentally heard by Lisa - balances on the teeter-board of believability.

Moreover, is it too much awkward information for the plot to process? In fact it allows two intensely focussed performers to physically - wordlessly - express unvarnished reactions.

Vettesse and Wright simply nail this unnerving hiatus: her silence utterly harrowed, the grim muscle twitching in his cheek ... Wretched, humiliating, exposing confidences invade a space where mutual attraction had been about to pop into promising action. Our laughter fades, as does the impromptu passion.

Mind you, Mark’s cheeky pay-off hints that there might be more to come- how about it, Ms Vettesse?