Brighton Fringe 2010
White Room Theatre once more take to the stage on Saturday mornings to offer a varied selection of short plays – with free strawberries thrown in. The plays on offer were:
Waiting for Hashim
Two girls meet in Afghanistan both waiting for the same man to take them to their posts after training. As personalities and countries clash, who will be the better of the two?
A monologue detailing the journey of a teenage boy’s crush on a French landlady ending in a startling revelation.
Room Without A View
Two men meet in a room. There are two doors…which one will David take to get out?
A Toothbrush Tale
Two toothbrushes belonging to a couple splitting up spend an interesting last night together…so much so it seems almost human…
A satire on the end of a big chain of stores due to the credit crunch with a very unexpected outcome!
As we entered the new venue for the Fringe Festival, the Old Courtroom, there was a good atmosphere as the audience waited for Bite Size to start. For a Saturday morning, the venue was pretty packed and as I’d seen Bite Size last year, I was looking forward to seeing the offering White Room Theatre had to offer this time round.
Whilst the content was just as entertaining and varied as before, unfortunately there were one or two pieces which let the show down a little. This is shown in the reviews for each play below:
Waiting for Hashim
Kate Willis and Kirrily Long make a very strong start to the day’s proceedings as two girls who are waiting for the same person – Hashim. This is in order to volunteer for the good cause in a war torn country. It slowly develops into a deliberate competition between the two countries they come from (UK and America) to see which is the better of the two women.
There was so much in terms of verbal as well as physical combat that it automatically engaged the audience into the piece. The way in which they interacted with each other was precise and very energetic, that it created a whole new meaning for the phrase ‘Physical Comedy’.
Kate Willis was really good in her condescending character of the Australian who thought she knew everything. The way she took to the stage as she challenged the British lady (played beautifully by Kirrily Long) was very prominent and showed her strength as an actress in general.
Kirrily Long portrayed the British stiff upper lip with style and flare. However, what was really charming about her role was the way in which she became almost tribal in her movements and voice, which in turn led her partner into doing the same.
When the revelation took place that they were in the same camp, the fight sequences became more animalistic and fascinating to watch. These are two strong actresses that are to be watched out for in the future.
Alex Lynch took on the challenge of a tough monologue depicting an upper class teenage boy sent away by his father to France to continue his schooling. Whilst he’s there, he develops a crush on his older landlady and eventually falls under her spell of seduction.
This was rather a big monologue to take on for one so young, but Alex did a good job of taking on this role and took us on a journey through this boy’s mind that we would not forget in a hurry. From the awkwardness of being caught out undressed, to the slow becoming of being a man as he develops his jealousy at his landlady being with other men.
There were times when his voice became slightly monotonous in tone, but his stage charisma made up for this as he became more brash with the slight bewilderment of being in the presence of this Goddess he’s seen in his mind.
The twist at the end is somewhat predictable in writing, but it does show a proper awakening in this young boy and leaves us satisfied that he’s now grown up that little bit more.
Room Without A View
This piece was my personal favourite out of all of the plays as a reviewer.
Bozo and David meet in a strange room where nothing seems to be real. We first see Julian Howard McDonald (Bozo) sitting on a podium like a statue before David (Russell Shaw) enters from a party. What evolves is a strange ‘Alice In Wonderland’ style of theatre. Strange doors, unusual circumstances and even more bizarre outcomes if the right choices are made.
Both men had a really good working partnership as the scene developed. There were really subtle hints of humour from Julian as we established constantly that we were ‘Here’. But it was that same subtleness that drew us in as an audience – the exploration of madness vs. rationality and whether they actually overlap was particularly prominent.
Although it was an odd circumstance of a limbo state, the challenges set by Bozo were poignant. If David ‘felt the door’, he’d know the right choice to take. To find out what happens to David, go and see this show!
A Toothbrush Tale
This was an absurdist, but rather charming piece focussing on Alex Lynch and Alice Robinson. They played two different makes of toothbrushes to a couple who were in the process of splitting up.
This may seem a bit strange to most people, but the way this was written, it was almost as if one could believe that these toothbrushes were human. They had thoughts, feelings and it was almost as if they were in a relationship themselves by the way they were portrayed.
As they share memories they had together, it’s revealed that there were circumstances which made the human couple split up. It was interesting to see this normal everyday occurance of a break up being told from the outside – albeit being two objects!
The use of pauses and extreme expressions were used well, but what really drew us in was the fact that there was very little movement. In many ways, this was freeing for both actors as they were challenged on many levels – emotionally as well as comedically.
This is another highlight in general as this is one of the most daring plays ever performed. They say that you should never fuse modern and period methods of acting and setting, but as this proves, when done the right way, it can actually make a mesmerising piece of theatre.
Kate Willis, Clive Wedderburn and Phillip Dunn take on the challenge of the love letter and deliberate misunderstandings to create a different comedy of manners sketch. Edward – a ‘cretin’ woos a posh lady whose father detests him with a vengeance. But the twist is that despite us seeing a typewriter, it’s actually a metaphor for a computer, instant messages and email!
Between the three of them, they had good teamwork and were very strong as a team. Throughout the piece, they held it together and had wonderful energy which never dropped for one minute. The repartie was slick, efficient and the journey in which we embarked upon with them was full of style, elegance and several emotional changes which were extremely well handled.
What makes this work well is the fact that lots of questions are thrown up – are the mistakes made deliberate? Are the lies told really the truth secretly? And is this love story real or virtual?
And finally, Julian Howard McDonald takes to the stage once more in a parody about the decline of a big chain of stores dedicated to sweets, books and more.
He makes his speech to the whole audience as if they are the company workers. This in general was well handled and had a sense of dignity about it – at first…it’s the journey into the reality of the situation that makes the comedy work. This is because despite mentioning the fact that everyone is not going to get paid or work here again, he still maintained the optimism associated with rebellion – such as ‘But are we down? Yes!’
The energy Julian had throughout the speech was focussed and even when the twist with the sweets happened at the end, the audience appreciated it.
There were a couple of times though when the fluidity of each line didn’t quite happen. This could have been due to several stumbles over one or two lines, which spoiled the rhythm somewhat.
These plays are highly recommended to see in the festival this year and will certainly make Saturday mornings very enjoyable