The Match Box

Written by Frank McGuiness
Directed by Lia Williams
Liverpool Playhouse Studio
14th June - 13th July 2012

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Such has been the public acclaim of this masterly stage performance by Liverpool actress Leanne Best it has been given a week's extension beyond its orginal finishing date.

Some might say why it was not shown in the much bigger Playhouse rather than in the small Studio based on the top floor of the building.

This intensely emotional and often harrowing play, penned by Irish writer Frank McGuiness, could only work successfully in an intimate setting.

Best, in the guise of Sal, is the sole performer on stage throughout the 110 minute duration - without any interval - uses the audience as part of her act.

In despair, following the death of her twelve-year-old daughter - who was accidentally shot in crossfire between two rival gangs in Ireland - she literally, at times, comes face-to-face with particular members of the audience - staring at them with piercing eyes - as she reveals her anguish and mourning for the loss of her loved one.

The setting of the play is in a delapidated and sparse bedroom in a house located on the small barren island of Valentia off County Kerry.
Life has almost stopped for Sal. Her daughter, mum and dad have all died. She is alone with all her nightmare thoughts and regrets- a woman at the end of her tether.

Best conveys this dark mental pain and grief, as well as black humour, with stunning authenticity.

The matches she regularly sets alight and blows out throughout the play serves to have many symbolic meanings. The light has gone out of her life, life can be snuffed out in a flash, darkness can be illuminated, however fleetingly. Sal discards the once lit matches as if throwing away unwanted dark memories.

Some have compared The Match Box to a Greek tragedy. I would not disagree.

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Comment left by Colin Serjent on 25th June, 2012 at 16:19
The Match Box has been further extended until 21 July.