One Minute – Simon Stephens


I did warn you. If you’re reading this one, four down five to go.

Simon Stephens wrote the following about this play in the Introduction to his second play collection (Methuen Drama) “…it was a detective story with its centre removed…Many of the scenes that one imagines when considering a dramatised police missing persons search were taken away…I wanted to find a form in One Minute, that dramatised the absence as much as the drama of a detective story.” This quote really made me think of One Minute as a play with a hole in it (a theme I will return to later).

For me this approach did not work. It didn’t give me what I would conjure up as a hollowed-out detective story, nor did it give me something else fascinating and meaningful in its place. And it did not pass my bar in the one category which can redeem anything for me: language.

Stephens is in his wheelhouse here with believably, relatable-y average “real life” characters who have real life speech tics and circular exchanges that drive neither the narrative nor the characters forward.  Further, Simon Stephens is parsimonious with stage directions so there are few hints as to the visual language. The play read as dissatisfyingly aimless, and didn’t convince me to want to wring something else out of it, so, not on my to do list.

Cast: 5  3F 2M Run Time: 75 minutes (max) Summary/Themes: This is a play about the search for missing child. It focuses on a very small group from the web of people who would be part of such an operation, and not necessarily the ones you would immediately think of. Themes of loss, guilt, futility, mistrust, confusion, and frustration feature.


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