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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Snarl Up

Knock Knock Theatre Company

Venue: Spotlite @ Merchants Hall


Low Down

Yet another traffic jam on the M25 and we have a lot of frustrated people trapped in it, in their vehicles and with people that are harbouring some surprising things. As the traffic grinds to a halt, watch the pressure build to bursting point.



I hate traffic. And nowhere is the traffic worse at the moment than central Edinburgh with the shambolic diversions in place to accommodate the longest running installation of a set of tram rails known to mankind.   Even though I was on my push bike, I got snarled up in the mother of all jams on my way to Merchants Hall last night in the rush hour.  

And what do I find myself in when I arrive? Another blessed traffic jam, except this time it’s one being acted out in front of me. The premise is simple – pick a snarl up on the M25 (and let’s face it, there is no shortage of material there) and take a look at the people stuck in it. Trapped physically in their mode of transport and, as it transpires, in their respective lives.
Ella and Amy are best friends, have been for years. Like most best friends they enjoy a bit of a gossip, especially about Ella’s latest conquest, who apparently has pectoral muscles to die for. Trouble is, Amy is a bit jealous not having had anyone salivating over her somewhat ample frame for as long as she can remember. But that, as it turns out, is not what she’s really after.
Then we meet Bill (resembling that Harry Enfield teenage character of a few years back) and his pasta loving, figure obsessed girlfriend Sara. BilI isn’t into eating anything that hasn’t originated within a 10 mile radius of the Thames Estuary, a source of considerable frustration to his perpetually guzzling other half. 
Moving down the jam (it’s getting bad now, nothing has moved for 45 minutes) we come across Dave and Geoff, two working lads returning from a job. Only Dave is harbouring a bit of a guilty secret, the sort you really don’t want to blurt out in the confines of a Transit van. Too late, he’s spilled the beans – more trouble brewing.
And stuck at the back we have yummy mummy Theresa, trapped with her two young children one of whom, naturally, needs a poo at just the wrong moment – now. And she’s forgotten to collect her banker husband’s dry cleaning. Stress acquires new meaning when you meet Theresa.  
So, lots of people all trapped with the pressure rising inside each vehicle. Result, an explosion of confrontations, some funny, some sad, some violent, some mad. But the pick is the disintegration of our yummy mummy.  She simply goes wildly, madly and completely dotty. Driven by the pressure from her 4×4, she lies in the fast lane of the M25 smearing chocolate mousse and applying cucumber patches in a vain attempt to create a soothing face pack for herself. The others gather round to try and calm her, in vain. So she starts stripping off, running wildly around in a frenzy of frustration at those who control her life. It was funny, yet strangely moving and quite the best bit of acting I have seen at this year’s Fringe, so hat’s off and 5 stars (or more) to Susan Lay for a really tremendous display.   
The denouement is even more surprising so it was a shame that quite a lot of the audience they had been expecting appeared to have got snarled up in the maddening jams outside this attractive venue. They missed out on a perceptive, inventive and really funny show from this talented bunch out of the East 15 acting school. Traffic permitting, trundle on down as this is a good show in need of an audience. Me?   I’m off back to the Scottish Borders where I belong and where two cars in close proximity of each other constitutes a traffic jam. Trams – who needs them.