Brighton Fringe 2012
A highly entertaining comedy drama, beautifully acted as it moves seamlessly from laughter to drama and resolution.
Clare and James are so busy they have to make appointments to meet on their only rest day, and Sam’s lateness is the beginning of a confrontation that ends in a battle of life-altering dimensions. This is the outline of a very funny and thoroughly engrossing comedy, with a few turns and surprises on the way. We are drawn into their lives as the disclosures, the mistakes and secrets and the couple’s inability to move out of their own agendas to listen to one another, build into admittance of all the differences between the somewhat ill matched pair as they embark on disclosures and actions from which there is no going back.
The minutiae of the characters, with all their the twists and turns make for a very funny play but some of the humour was lost as the confrontation became very loud, so the aggression felt as if it was assaulting the audience as well as the performers. No doubt different aspects of the story will get different reactions on different nights as audiences identify in different ways with the couple. On the first performance the arguments felt too loud and strong to allow the comedy of the situation to stand up – the Open House is a small venue, and the actors in this presentation are very close. It is anyway unlikely that James – and particularly Clare, would shout so much in the park with people around – perhaps some of this could be initially toned down so the rows build more gradually. That said, the actors were totally believable, always interesting – and the dialogue sharp and clear. Danny Charles had a Tigger-like energy and bounce, while Mary Rose gave a lovely subtle performance, her expressive face illuminating every aspect of the character.
Without giving too much away, the passing of time was very cleverly portrayed, and the awkwardness of the final scene delicately portrayed. Perhaps without the constraints of Fringe time limitations (many venues only allow plays to run for under an hour) that final scene could be slightly expanded to allow for a slower development and exposition of what has happened in between – the one place where the writing was a little heavy handed. That said, we were held throughout, and moved to laughter and pity.
All aspects of the production were satisfying, from the clever staging along the sides of the space, rather than distanced in front of us, so we could “be” the other people in the park, and the sense of space beyond was very well conveyed. I thoroughly enjoyed the delightful, evocative scene cloth portraying a child’s view of the park, and understand it was expanded from the design of very young Sophie Wylde, who may claim to being the youngest scene designer in this year’s – or perhaps any other – Festival. The play was written by the actors, and ably directed by Mary Swan, and is a play well worth visiting the Open House pub to see. I thoroughly recommend it.