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Brighton Fringe 2008

So Close to Home

Mark Wheatley

Venue: No. 10 Circus Parade


Low Down

 A touching, entertaining and testosterone filled drama, set and performed in the kitchen of a dingy pizza restaurant.


So Close to Home was part of the Brighton Festival’s offerings, and was also co-produced by them, (with support from Farnham Maltings.) Located in a deserted pizza restaurant in a fairly run-down and unpleasant part of Brighton, the site-specific nature of the performance already gave it a unique twist, and made the whole event more edgy and exciting. 


Lead round the back of the restaurant by ushers, we passed a burly looking builder having a cup of tea in the biting wind, and took our seats in a stripped out, dusty kitchen. The story that followed was one of family rifts and betrayal, displacement and loss. The characters come from three generations, and the play is an interesting examination of the uneasy relations, and ultimate bond between father and son and grandfather and grandson.


The story focuses on Robert who is trying to set up a restaurant with his son, who then lets him down by taking a job with an old colleague and rival. Then, out of the blue, and perhaps a little too randomly to be believed, Robert’s estranged father turns up from the States. The emotional fireworks that follow, and form much of the play, could at times be toned down, as often the well-projected shouting became too much for the small space, and the words got lost in noise.


However, the very carefully constructed characters and fine acting mean that this play is emotionally touching, as well as making a brief political foray into the murky waters of the treatment of migrant workers. The naturalistic style of acting, and very real fryer fire(!) meant that once you managed to ignore your fellow audience members, you could almost believe that you were a fly on the wall (were it not for the eerie blue fly catcher which would almost certainly get you!)


This talented group of actors also included a couple of other men, posing as Polish builders who did the set dressing. It was a little odd the amount of seemingly unnecessary stage time these guys got – in the theatre industry, where every penny counts, the cast could really have re-set the stage themselves, and saved the money. But, with that being said, this was well acted, well directed and to be recommended.