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Brighton Fringe 2016

Low Down

Richard Lindfield directs and features in Liz Tait’s new play Limelight brought by award-winning team Beside the Seaside productions. And you receive a CD of highlights, not all Tom’s…..


Liz Tait’s new play Limelight comes with an award-wining team from Beside the Seaside productions directed by Richard Lindfield who also features in the show.

It’s Open Mic at Hove’s Iron Duke, the pub we’re in. In possibly the greatest under-use of talent an eight-strong ukulele band sings ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ entertaining with pre-set and for several minutes after.

Felix who was once an X Factor finalist it says on a backing sheet, introduces new and old talent. His testy glib persona hides deep wounds and his journey in the play is the most transformative. Conor Baum brings out a shuffle-pack of vulnerabilities, and a soaring talent.

He’s agitated. Jim the old hand who seems quietly too good as singer-guitarist to be busking, wants to spend more time with his allotment and is leaving. Felix though is hoping Jason Wood the Simon Cowell rival will turn up. He indeed does.

As does regular Kate (Stephanie Prince) with her secret infatuation for Jim, a terminally ill, unrecognizing husband and a daughter who’s indifferent. One of the best lines is her sympathizing with her spoilt daughter. The daughter’s maid hasn’t turned on the slow cooker, and this leads to a butterfly effect she feels. A rich woman in a poor pub. Prince conveys Kate’s knowledge of her absurdity, her crushed talent (‘I Dreamed a Dream’), and gradually revealed passion with tenderness and a slightly drunk scene that never sabotages that vulnerability, but heightens it in ‘Natural Woman’.

Kerry Williams’ Lucy a stand-up who can’t stand to – but in flashes of psychic foresight – keeps going to the toilet. Though if you have a book of jokes it’s got to go off sometime, and it certainly does in what she titles ‘My Angry Diary’. Williams’ whoop of power you feel coming from some way, but it’s still a surprise. as is the un-guessable content. And quietly assured Max Bower’s Tom, a nevertheless cocky talent (‘Best for Me’) who promotes himself very effectively with a rucksack of CDs – and uncovers others just as uncomfortably on his smartphone – is soon spotted.

Jason though is set on more than disappointing Felix or giving Tom his card. He’s after Jim and Jim has a huge secret to shape his future: his past. No wonder he sings ‘Man Out of Time’.

The heart-warming way this show unravels though four of the protagonists singing is beautifully handled: this ensemble can interact. Kate’s anxious flickers, Jim’s wary defence system and grudging capitulation to stabs of generosity in ‘Thick as Thieves’ aided by exceptional guitar solos even improvising Happy Birthday in melancholy tribute to Kate. Again in Felix’s transformation nailed in ‘When We Were Young’, all ground themselves in true observation, as is Bower’s wholly believable Tom and Lindfield’s smooth Jason.

Lindfield paces this very well, production values are tight, and the miniscule stage – so merciless in accommodating five or six protagonists – holds no terrors in blocking or in swift shuffling of characters. Beside the Seaside Productions have produced a luxury-talented and very fine short play in a compressed venue. It needs to breathe, and will.