The Match Box – Traverse 2

What would you do if pushed to the very edge?

Sal’s journey of revenge, forgiveness and redemption shows that you never, never, can tell until you’re in that position.

Firebrand, in co-production with The Byre Theatre, St Andrews and Heart of Hawick presents the touring Scottish premiere of Frank McGuinness’ 2012 monologue.

The Match Box starts benignly enough with a woman on an Irish island, ruminating on her isolation, her conversations with the sheep and, despite family heritage, her status as an outsider.

But Sal is no ordinary blow-in, she’s fighting her own personal hell of loss and grief, because on an ordinary school day, in an ordinary English street, her twelve year old daughter, Mary, dies.

Telling the story, Sal moves between crazed grief and chilling logic; she’s full of rage, she’s matter of fact. It’s impossible to know which one is really her – but of course, both sides are – she’s only human – and it’s that, as well as the shocking, brutal events, that make this play so unsettling.

These days. it’s become increasingly common to see ‘trigger warnings’ on social media, and this comes with trigger warnings galore. There is no escape here, you can’t help but be immersed – and the intimacy of Traverse 2 adds to that, of course. You can’t help but think of your own mother (and father) and your own child. You consider how an ordinary life can be changed in an instant – except it’s that kind of thing that only happens to other people, isn’t it, thank God…

Frank McGuinness’s compelling words are an interpretation of Euripedes, re-telling a modern Greek tragedy. And Janet Coulson’s performance is captivating. The energy required for any 90 minute monologue is phenomenal, one so full of raw emotion, and portraying so many unseen voices, must be relentless. Thanks to Richard Baron’s direction, Coulson also moves fluidly across the stage, comfortable with her physical movements as well as her words – something not always achieved in a sparsely prop-ed monologue.

There is no redeeming ending. There is no comfort – there can’t be; Sal will allow sympathy but she will not be comforted. All you can do is go with her on her journey and don’t judge her: after all, in her place, what would you have done?


Traverse 2 until 17th February / @firebrandtheatr


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