Tony, suffering the mother of all hangovers, wakes up at Budapest Airport with absolutely no idea how he got there. Worse, all flights from the airport are cancelled and the only other person around is the screamingly cheerful Mel. But what happened last night? How did Tony end up in Budapest? Where is everyone?
The tone is set as you walk into the venue with Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark blaring out, while Mel – performed with aplomb by Hannah Bradley, who just manages to keep the character from falling into caricature – whizzes about the stage on one of two blue wheeled suitcases. Her seemingly random thoughts, and the surprising array of foodstuffs secreted in various parts of her dungarees, are in stark contrast to Tony (Johnny Cameron) – who is dishevelled, disorientated and increasingly antagonistic towards the cheerful stranger who wants to make friends.
Wanting to find out how he ended up in Budapest, an exasperated Tony turns to Mel for help in teasing out the scattered memories of the previous night. As the facts are pieced together, the tone abruptly changes, and the play begins to take a darker turn as the revelations come thick and fast.
This play, a new dark Scottish comedy written by Dougal Thomson, is very short at only 45 minutes. After a solid build-up in the first half, it rushes to its finale without allowing the full impact of what is going on to sit with the audience. Taking a little more time allow the implications and revelations to build up rather than overwhelm. The tonal shift from comedy to more serious drama could have been phased in at a better pace.
Arrivals is an ambitious production that doesn’t quite fully come together. However, Bradley and Cameron are engaging; they play off each other well, and their spirited performances bring a great deal of energy to the show.