OF the many recent theatrical adaptations, Michael Boyd'sdramatisation

of Janice Galloway's award-winning novel is by far the most striking and

innovative, faithful not only to atmosphere and characterisation but

also to stylisation -- invoking Galloway's typographical games with

phrases projected on to gauzy screens -- yet also creating a robust

theatrical language. Arresting images are created and dissolve,

characters appear among the audience -- an imaginative use of space

which makes this intensely personal story seem at once both epic and


Boyd directs, reproducing the stream-of-consciousness narration by

having three actresses play the central character Joy Stone, a woman

who, following her lover's death by drowning, is adrift on a sea of

grief, battling with interfering do-gooders as well as her own

depression and doubt. It's a device which could have been troublesome

but here is pulled off with such confidence and aplomb, in both

direction and performances, that at times I was so sucked into Joy's

story I became unaware which actress had just spoken, so completely did

they elide.

They're distinct roles for all that; Jennifer Black playing the Joy

who deals with the world with a very humane mix of irony and bleakness,

Siobhan Redmond fiercely caustic as her constantly questioning inner

consciousness, and Neve McIntosh gently optimistic as a lyrical memory,

her beautiful voice occasionally lifting in dreamy song.

Other performances are similarly high-calibre; Peter Mullan is

outstanding as Joy's terrifying sister Myra, Forbes Masson makes a

coolly uninvolved psychiatrist, Eileen McCallum turns in a series of

assured cameos, while the rest of the 17-strong company offer

magnificent support.