Tiny Dynamite, Traverse Theatre

Three into two won't go
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The Independent Culture

This is the love-hate story of two boys who are childhood friends: one, Lucien, is shy; the other, Anthony, mentally disturbed. They befriend a girl, and the three grow close; in their own words, they become three points of the same triangle. All things may be equal, but some are more equal than others: the girl loves one more than the other, and although both boys may know that, neither will admit it.

After an accident, the boys find themselves alone together again, each determined to protect the other. Then, one summer, they meet Madeleine, who perhaps reminds them of the girl that they lost. Her presence becomes the catalyst that causes their relationship to fracture.

This intensely moving production of Abi Morgan's new play marks the first collaboration between the masters of physical theatre, Frantic Assembly, and Paines Plough, a company dedicated to encouraging new work. Two such different philosophies could have resulted in confusion, but the combination of Morgan's taut writing and the energy of the physical-theatre company – the actors and co-directors, Scott Graham and Steven Hoggety, play Lucien and Anthony – makes for spellbinding theatre.

The secret at the heart of Lucien and Anthony's dependency is pieced together over the course of the play, while Lucien attempts to decode "Funny Old World" stories and Anthony wreaks havoc. The characters' monosyllabic dialogue and silences are weighty with meaning, and the intensity of their physical intimacy hints at a combined desperation. Then Madeleine arrives. Without missing a beat, their relationship opens up to include her – as the synchronised, balletic sunbathing scene silently reveals – and she splinters it irrevocably.

Julian Crouch's spartan yet magical staging maroons the characters on a square of decking, centre stage, where the characters push towards breaking-point. Hoggety is compulsively watchable as he fidgets, sulks and wrestles, while Graham is an equally magnetic yet silent presence; the coolly graceful Jasmine Hyde completes the trio.

There are no hysterical scenes, no ranting or raving. Instead, under the masterful direction of Vicky Featherstone, their loss echoes quietly throughout the piece, and the relationship between the three crackles like the static electricity that is constantly hanging in the air.

The coming together of these two companies can only breathe new, necessary life into an increasingly moribund art-form. This is surely the bright new future of theatre.

Venue 15, 0131-228 1404, to 25 August

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