Date: 05/09/2001
Author: Rachel Haliburton

A love triangle that makes you wand to scream

Davis Spencer’s play starts von territory familiar to Royle Family fans and progresses to the ninth circle of relationshop hell. As the play develops, the circle constricts, drawing the audince into a vortex of romantic delusion and the psychological cancer of self-loathing.

The action begins with a documentary voice-over, describing how a cow becomes aware of imminent slaughter by smelling the fear and adrenaline of those preceding it. Throughout this portrayal of a love-triangle in a TV-dominated lounge, that image of a withless animal struggling helplessy towards its own destruction adds to the sense of catastrophical claustrophobia.

Tina has the sex appeal of a tub of lard, but when Darren agrees to set up home with her, a romantic paradise seems to beckon. Simon Sullions’s set evokes a love reach their apogee in a fake tiger-skin bed-heart inset with a cassette recorder to play everything from Frank Sinatra to Dusty Springfield.

Tina has a handicapped son, Ollie, and has been sterilised after delivering her second child still-born. Her problems start anew when Carol, Ollie’s 17-year-old babysitter, catches Darren’s porn-fuelled attentions, and moves into the flat.

Although the echoes of Spencer’s latest work are strongly televisual, both the structure and the lit-fuse tension make it a compellingly theatrical piece. The key factor in transforming Glass Hearts from a stereotypical story about a middle-aged man dumping his lover for a younger, perter model is inescably Karen E Jones’s powerful portrayal of Tina’s fermenting discontent as she demotes hersel to the doormat of all doormats to keep his love.

Director George Ormond has drawn out beautifull understated performances from Adrian Lochead as Darren and Lorraine Hodgson as Carol to complete this strikingly unequilaterial love triangle. There is no backhand to this compliment: it makes you want to run screaming from the theatre.