Replay is made up of four short plays, which are introduced by a mysterious narrator, played with suitable oddness by Marcus Reeves.
The first piece is a sort of dystopian Men Behaving Badly where Tom (Tom Mathias), an artificial intelligence developer, struggles with depressive grief, exacerbated by the pressure applied by his sister-in-law.
This is followed by an excellent drama set aboard a space-ship where we are introduced to one of the robots Tom presumably helped develop. All three cast members excel here, with Bethany Staton as the shiny-eyed ‘Alter’ robot, Owen Chidlaw as a seemingly awful sexist idiot and Tom Mathias as the fresh-faced inspector aboard the ship to investigate a large safety failure.
The third piece drags us into the crushing pressure of an adoption application by an apparently very mismatched couple who are subjected to invasive questioning by Tom Mathias’s surly Welsh adoption agent. Bethany Staton is both hilarious and raw as the scouse taxidermist who longs for a child with her delicate partner, played with tenderness by Owen Chidlaw.
Finally, we go back in time to a Victorian asylum where a child-killer is studied by a young doctor. The dialogue in this section lacks the power and intrigue of some of the previous material but the whole thing is turned on its head at the end by an enormously juicy plot twist.
This is an evening of passionately and intelligently performed new writing with some excellent and exciting ideas, brought to life by a talented group of actors with some lovely direction by Becky Harrison, some great moments of lighting by Jason Bozzard and excellent sound and incidental music by Marcus Reeves.
Unfortunately, the finer points of this show cannot be delved into without this review becoming a complete list of spoilers. However, while there is some disparity between the quality of the writing in the four plays, they join together well to show us a rich and imaginative world and deliver a very enjoyable evening of theatre.