The Match Box
Liverpool Playhouse Studio
June 14 – July 7
Author: Frank McGuinness
Director: Lia Williams
Producer: Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse
Cast: Leanne Best
Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins.
From the moment Leanne Best takes the stage amidst a pall of dull, yellow light that shows in an instant the hardship her character, Sal, has had to endure, the audience is in her thrall. A tale of love, loss, reconciliation, acceptance and – ultimately – hatred, Frank McGuinness so successfully encapsulates the emotional turmoil of this woman whose daughter has been senselessly murdered, it is impossible not to be moved whilst at the same time wonder how we, ourselves, would react in such circumstances.
The script is a delight, with tight descriptive lines pushing their imagery to the forefront of the mind, aided and abetted by a simple yet striking set representing a rundown bedsit that might very well also double as a prison cell.
Although this single hander, at 1 hour 45 straight through may, on the face of it, appear to be something of a challenge, especially when considering the subject matter, the actor once again steps up to the plate to deliver a performance of such mesmeric quality the time simply dissolves as she totally absorbs this broken woman to the point where one almost fears for her own sanity and also drags Sal’s nuances out with such skilfully managed delivery the emphasis of her words has a direct, almost tangible impact that is as digestible as it is powerful so that what results is a performance of dextrously restrained beauty.
When Best switches accents and mannerisms to depict the peripheral characters of Sal’s harrowing story, it is as though the stage is filled with six or seven others rather than the single actor who makes her space come alive with ghosts.
Staged in the smaller space of the new Liverpool Playhouse Studio, the intimate atmosphere is increased and undoubtedly adds to proceedings, although with this said, The Match Box remains as being nothing short of magnificent theatre that is performed, directed and written magnificently well.