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Brighton Fringe 2013

End to End

The Gramaphones Theatre Company

Genre: Storytelling

Venue: The Warren


Low Down

The story of three women’s journey from one end of Great Britain to the other. And then home. The Gramaphones Theatre Company for one night only – catch them on tour.


There’s a little bit of audience involvement before the show officially starts but I won’t spoil it for you. This is an occasionally interactive, always direct and warm-hearted piece of three performer story telling.
We are invited on  theatrical story journey, the play stops at Brightin Fringe on its own trip around UK venues. The style is dramatic storytelling and an optimistic feel threads through the piece. Physical and verbal set pieces deliver this idea-full script.
It all actually happened. A diarised journey from Lands End to John O’Groats on a pound a mile with envelopes full of challenges from friends for these three young women to complete on the way. It’s also a journey of self-reflection and realisation in different ways for each of them.
There’s plenty of humour in the simplicities of each others’ differences and quirks, the vocal delivery feels a little too above the shoulders and I feel there’s a bit more to be done in making the voice work travel to the distant back of the venue. Sometimes it feels too throaty-shouty.
This is warm hearted, direct and accessible example of strong narrative theatre offered by likeable performers. Story within story, the way points are tales in themselves woven together skilfully by these three personable performers.
We are told a fair bit more than we are shown and it often feels as if writing is being a bit too delivered through the charactersmouths. I’d like to have dived more into the story through theatre. But the stories are related clearly and inventively, for example, through the sharing of three parallel diary entries in the same episode and some neat projected visuals.
Some of the observational content and style reminds me of Victoria Wood. There’s a lightness to the overall feel but there are also regular dives into emotional depth and insights into the human condition. Friendship is explored through the dynamics between the three. These people are really nice, middle class and this might irritate those looking for a darker take. There’s a lot more light than shadow here. A lot more warm than hot and cold. It’s all better when it is more bold or tender story than mere light anecdote. But it flows well, the interplay and staging is skilled and mostly very tight. There’s plenty of humour to be found in the simple interaction between the three.
When music and physicality meet the piece becomes stellar -touching and evocative. I’d like to see more of that and less wordy telling. Yet often there’s a lyrical and atmospheric air that reminds me of Babolin theatre at their best, especially when props, movement, mood and music all converge. I emerged from the venue charmed and warmed from a piece that is sweet, but more rich honey than sugar.
The performance is offered with an affecting generosity of spirit and its hard not to be enchanted by the sometimes even 4D journey.
Take a risk, go on a journey, plant a seed, and experience every mile. It’s a shame that End to End passed through Brighton for just a single performance. I rather wish they’d played the Fringe from end to end.