Sadie and Bill are ‘mentally defective’ and live together in a council flat, in constant fear of abuse from their neighbours.
Bill’s niece Jackie works in a city centre wine bar, struggling to support her disabled son and to keep her anger in check. Even Dave, Jackie’s seemingly-confident boss, is confined by his own loneliness.
Any Given Day is split into two halves. The first takes place in Sadie & Bill’s flat as they take comfort in routine as they prepare for a visit from Jackie. Real-life brother and sister Lewis and Kathryn Howden play this challenged couple, swinging between scenes of heart-wrenching tenderness and abusive bickering.
The characters are well-written and the performances convincing – although some of Kathryn Howden’s exaggerated movements and postures stray close to cariacature at times.
Dialogue has an absurdist tone, heightening the couple’s predicament and obsessive behaviour. This is most notable in a touching scene where they search through their jigsaw collection for a piece to disguise a hole in their smashed window. “We’ve got hundreds of puzzles,” says Bill, consoling a distraught Sadie. “We’ve got hundreds of skies.”
Kate Dickie as Jackie gives the play’s standout performance. Lonely, embittered and frustrated, Dickie lets Jackie’s angst and emotion simmer and bubble to the surface in a sympathetic and gripping portrayal of a woman given a rare – yet still bitter – taste of happiness. Phil McKee as Dave is her foil here, with more lyrical and quasi-realistic dialogue used to uncover the characters’ hidden hopes and fears.
Any Given Day is at times uncomfortable viweing, unafraid to challenge and turn a lens on our own perceptions of relationships and responsibility for our loved ones.
A simple set and starkly effective lighting heighten this almost clinical examination of a world where people cling to the safety of routine whilst – like Sadie & Bill as they sift through their puzzles – they try to and understand how they fit.
Any Given Day runs at the Traverse Theatre until 19 June. Details of times and ticket prices are available on the Traverse website.