Poem in October ****

Poem in October, written by Robert Forrest, is a theatrical poem that is lyrical and beautiful.  It is a play focused more on words, their meaning and their sounds, than it is on plot or character.

Somewhere on a park bench sits a troubled man.  Whether he is speaking out his thoughts or is communicating with an intended audience is never fully known, but he spends the time voicing events from his life, events that could either be seen as fantastical or an elaborate excuse to cover for mistakes and transgressions.

The play is dependent on the performance, and here Finlay Welsh is a pure triumph.  He manages to complete a character shrouded in mystery and folly, and his story elicits both sympathy and laughter.  Everything has meaning, from the pace of his words to the slight shake of a hand.

Director Douglas Irvine is to be commended for his approach.  Some directors may have felt the need to give unnecessary movement as a way of breaking up the piece, but here Irvine allows his actor to connect with the words, meaning that much of the ‘action” is aural in nature.  It is a much more assured form of directing than it appears on the surface and is supported by an effective design concept, executed by Patrick & Rita McGurn.

Poem in October may not be the most exciting piece of theatre around, but it just might be the most elegant.  It is an assured production that has one of the finest performances I’ve seen in quite some time.

Until March 28 at Oran Mor, Glasgow, then at the Traverse from March 31 to April 4.

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