The second, a pure monologue by Lachlan Chapman as a sneering lothario brought unexpectedly close - but not close enough - to something like genuine feeling by an office temp, didn't have the same impact. Chapman gave a fine, aggressive delivery, and the obscenity had a Mamet-ish artfulness about it. However, the character's behaviour was so extreme that he didn't seem quite believable, while the temp herself was underdrawn to the point of becoming a faceless, symbolic object of desire. Perhaps this was the point - showing that our man was never really going to escape his cycle of grubby, despair-filled liasons over a single incident - but it did lessen the impact of the tragic finale.
The final section moved closer to 'realism', with Sian Clifford as Em, a woman trying to cope with a physically but decidedly not mentally planned-for pregnancy and her mother's slow death from cancer - a parallel that came close to seeming mawkish and contrived until a plausible reason for the connection placed a moving new perspective on some of the character's behaviour. With the cast playing a variety of characters offering support both wanted and unwanted it seemed overstuffed compared to the previous pieces. Its finale, however, was surprising: Em reclaims a measure of autonomy and revives her creative spirit in a burst of amateurish song and dance that revealed a possibility of hope and redemption absent elsewhere. It stirred up my innate dislike of musicals, but that's my problem, not yours. In a modern theatrical landscape where 'dark' often seems the easy choice, this was a well-judged reminder that, awful though it all is, we do - for the most part - work things out and get by.