Brighton Fringe 2010
Venue: Ambassador Hotel
Festival: Brighton Fringe
In the rather untheatrical confines of the Ambassador Hotel, we are introduced to Harry, our unreliable narrator, who takes us on a constantly changing and inventive journey through his memories as he tries to discover whether he murdered his girlfriend. The script deals with the unreliable narrator schtick well, and the story is well told, if poorly acted. The excellent soundscape draws this rather shambolic production out of the doldrums, but there is still plenty to be improved here.
The story of the man who can’t remember what he did the night before is certainly not a new one, neither the idea of the unreliable narrator, and scenes changing before out eyes as the truth comes out. Otherwise, by new theatre company Adaptive Theatre, manages to squeeze an interesting story out of this rather tired, rather 90s schtick, and the intricacy of the script is certainly a boon to an otherwise rather flat production.
It’s not as if anything on display here is particularly poor, it just isn’t very inspiring. The acting is generally a little flat and not particularly interesting, and the lead starts to play the villain long before we should be able to work out what he has done. The other roles are generally forgettable, with none of the actors reaching the right level of emotionality and intensity to pull of this rather fraught piece, which becomes especially clear during the rather more aggressive final scenes. What the cast do do well is the scene changes: as the play takes place in the lead character’s head, characters and people slip and slide in and out of scenes, and the furniture moves with them: all handled well by the cast, and never made to be awkward: brilliantly done in a space as small as this, although why anyone would use the space at the Ambassador Hotel is beyond me. There are no stage lights, the space is barely 5 by 2 meters… Avoid!
Returning to the play; the script is pretty good. As said above, this is a tired set-up, but the script plays with the ideas behind the unreliable narrator set-up rather well. It got particularly refreshing when the memory characters started to interact with the characters supposedly outside of the memory, or various memories interacting with each other: sounds confusing, but is written and was played very well. Unfortunately, the end became a little too predictable, and the final outcome was less exciting: a rewrite of the ending might help keep the tension up.
Finally, a special note goes to the sound here: in a space without stage lights and with a lit audience (again, theatre-makers, avoid!), the sound was all-important in establishing place and time, or the lack thereof: the soundscape here was incredibly effective at reminding us of location and time, and deserves special credit. In a proper theatre space, this would have been marvellous to experience. As it stands, the performers did very well in a difficult theatre space, and the play isn’t half-bad: needs a bit of work though.