Brighton Fringe 2016
David Weedall’s been writing these for twenty-one Brighton Fringe Festivals straight and A Dirty Get-Away will tour, first to London. Weedall directs his own play at SweetVenues Bird Studios with a cast of five. Warning: Bird Studios might ply you with champagne.
David Weedall brings his own play – which he also directs – to SweetVenues Bird Studios at Vantage Point New England Road, where one walks past a pole-dancing class and other surreal distractions (an array of sprung-floor rehearsal spaces) en route to this enchanting absurdist play.
David Weedall’s been writing these for twenty-one Brighton Fringe Festivals and A Dirty Get-Away will tour.
Weedall descends slithering from two French traditions, the Feydeau farce and the absurdism of the 1950s.
A Dirty Get-Away projects this November will be snowdrifts and minus 15, with 70pmh wind. Stella (Nikki McGlead) awaits commanding boyfriend Boris in his cottage when a knock on the door reveals a man (Max) in a Melbourne (eyes and mouth showing) in a raincoat and it transpires little else proclaiming his car‘s overturned; he’s lost his memory along with much of his clothing. The line’s dead and overcoming Stella’s resistance he asks for a shower and tea. He also gate-crashes Stella’s solitary Snakes and Ladders game. So it’s not Agatha Christie. Not quite.
This replicates: two women with identical scenarios and raincoat/Melbourne-wear as uptight Maud and louche lyotarded Sam make claims. Each has lost their memory, each are identically dressed desirous of showering – and there’s been a giant cash robbery the radio proclaims. Finally Boris arrives garbed in the same attire, and it’s clear he’s not lost his memory at all. At which point the other three proclaim their innocence of any robbery. The only solution is for Stella, disinterested, to knock them each on the head with a conveniently handy club from the raid so they regain their memories.
The denouement involving baked beans dropped by helicopter as relief (a relief indeed, it’s not the Police) a complaint about buttered toast not being delivered with it, and the consequences of buttered toast must of course be seen.
Nikki McGlead projects the right hapless slide of assertion and exasperated surrender to happenstance with growing suspicion her alpha-male’s an Epsilon minus. Jonathan Howlett as Max has most explaining to do; his querulously chipper style perfectly suits (as his red underpants don’t) his contribution to the Australian cousins episode – an initial explanation to the apparently jealous Boris, boomingly present Peter vanDoorn who threatens the very walls for disobedience. He even crashes Snakes and Ladders and wins twice in three throws. So much for fate versus will. Elaine Larkin as Maud and Aycan Garip’s Sam bounce off each other neatly as the prim and the pro with badinage and feed-lines from a farceur’s handbook underwater, lurching in and out of Strine.
You’ll know by now whether this is for you. The sound – radio announcements (always switched off on house prices) and helicopter sonics through the snowstorm are naturalistically sourced, full of decibels. The set’s more basic save the Snakes and Ladders; seating’s arrayed across a small rehearsal room. Lighting’s straightforward with blackout for scene-ends. This is crisp farce with surreality the child always trying to be born of it.
Brilliantly silly, it’s naturally more than that. How can identity be sustained with memory loss, and are some better off in many ways for being innocent of their past? The medium of absurdism doesn’t make the questions less prescient or shrewd: it sharpens our condition.