note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Alexander Wright
A Review by Beverly Creasey
"Scotland Road" is an old-fashioned psychological whodunnit... which turns out to be more of a whodunwhat. Things are not often what they seem in real life....and the characters in Jeffrey Hatcher's modern melodrama may not be who they say they are.
SHE claims to be, at twenty, a survivor of the Titanic. HE is obsessed with the romance of the past...and determined to discover her true identity. Someone who claims to be a doctor has spirited the woman away from the iceberg where she was found --- and the three of them battle for respect...for reality...for sanity.
Hatcher gets the ideal production at New Rep for his Rod Serling-esque script Richard Chambers' stark, sterile set (and a crumpled white tarpaulin which mimics an iceberg) is brilliantly lit by John Malinowski's blinding white lights (which strain the eyes). Combine texture and light with David Wilson's eerie shipboard/ocean echoes and the atmosphere fairly percolates.
Add some crackerjack actors to the brew and you get some compelling intrigue, thanks to Michael Murray's taut direction. Jim Nutter portrays the fierce interrogator with seething intensity: even his posture is intense. Juliet Gowing as the enigmatic woman from the sea is as distant and mysterious as Nutter is overbearing. Gowing brings a sweet ingenuousness to the role. Rachel Harker is all business as a therapist (whose name translates to "half-correct"), and Pat Pellows turns in a hilarious cameo as the last living known Titanic survivor.
The playwright goes for some easy laughs (via the elderly Titanic survivor), and he muddles up the ending, but the tension never abates. I might quibble about the ice at the end (We know who has escaped their painful existence without that ice) and one character is left without a proper end --- but these are only small objections. "Scotland Road" (which is what the crew called the internal passage from steerage to first class on the Titanic) is the theatrical equivalent of "Masterpiece Theatre": riveting, haunting, and lots of fun,