Why’s this play named after Victor? He’s just one among four characters – and not even really the most important one. Perhaps it’s to highlight how self-centred he is; or maybe it’s ironic, because in truth there are no victors here. Whatever the reason, it’s a short but engaging dark comedy from playwright Russell Obeney, done justice by a strong ensemble cast.
The story’s spread over a single evening, both inside and outside Victor’s flat. Victor has a hot date – a third date, which his paramour Caitlin informs him is the hottest of all. Out in the street, the brassy Fiona meets a down-and-out former soldier called Paula, and after some initial wariness warms to her plight. The scene’s set for these two storylines to collide, with consequences that range from the humorous to the startling.
There are lots of good ideas here. The three major scenes work almost like sketches: the first, in particular, is overtly played for laughs, as the very-Irish Caitlin describes her illogical hatred of everything Scottish (and every man called Scott). Fiona’s Rabbie-Burns-inspired lament to a doner kebab is also a highlight, and there’s inherent humour in the set-up of the third scene, where Victor’s past and present unexpectedly merge.
It gets much more serious towards the end, and the shift in tone is successfully achieved – partly thanks to seeds planted in the gruff-but-sensitive dialogue between Fiona and the rough-sleeping Paula. Fiona’s a woman who takes no prisoners, but we understand more about her surprising depth of compassion when we get to know the details of her own past.
There’s some fine acting and good writing in Victor, and I’d love to see this concept develop into an hour-long play. As it stands, at 35 minutes, the ending comes too suddenly and there’s a bit too much that feels unexplored. I want to know more about Paula’s past, or about what Fiona is really planning for the future. After all – despite the play’s telling final line – it really isn’t all about Victor.