The Road to Huntsville
Frustratingly lightweight tale of a woman who falls for a death row inmate
Why is it that certain women fall in love with prisoners on death row? With men who are sometimes multiple rapists or serial killers, often travelling thousands of miles to marry them behind bars? Is it – a theory Stephanie Ridings contemptuously dismisses in her appealing, engaging show – because these men represent the ultimate alpha male, who will protect and provide for them? Or is it – a suggestion that seems more plausible – simply because they think they can save them?
Sadly, none of those questions are answered, or even properly addressed, in the frustratingly lightweight The Road to Huntsville. Indeed, the show's first-person tale of a woman researching the subject for a theatre piece, then inadvertently finding herself in too deep, suggests that it's simply because she's too dippy to realise the implications of what she's doing.
It's doubly frustrating because the show's theatrical practicalities – its inventive staging, slick pacing, gradually unfolding structure, as well as Ridings' oblivious protagonist – are well-nigh faultless. There's so much potential in it – especially in lining up her unwitting death-row tryst against her failing relationship with an implausibly long-suffering boyfriend. But aside from its lurid tales and shocking statistics on state killings, the show needs its issues brought far more strongly to the surface if it's to convey much of real substance.
Summerhall, 560 1581, until 28 Aug (not 15, 22), 8.45pm, £10 (£8).