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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

The Play About Charlotte

Dark Horse Theatre

Venue:  C Soco


Low Down

Cathy did it all young: a successful career as a play-write, a secure home and a handsome, loving husband.  Her plays are renowned for being biographical and, fore mostly, straight talking. However, she hits writers block after her third play and everything falls apart.  That is, until she meets Charlotte. A deliciously physiological play about dealing with academic success, the pressures of youth and mental illness.


The play begins with a tantalisingly tense argument between Cathy and her husband, Jamie.  Their marriage is rapidly falling apart as Cathy spends all of her time with Charlotte. Lonely, and jealous, Jamie accuses Cathy of no longer being in love with him, and implies an illicit affair with her new friend, a speculation fuelled by the fact her writers’ block has been eased since her friendship blossomed, and her writing has always been centred on personal experience.

In response to her continuing absent nature and worried for her health, he and her family send her to see a shrink. The story that follows is an undulating tale of Cathy’s relationship with herself in more ways than one.

The play effortlessly combines impressive directorial skill with sharp and innovative new writing. The script continues its undulating and ferocious pace throughout, is thoroughly entertaining and is cleverly bought to life by the interesting and visual direction, using all four talented members of the cast to their full capabilities.

Some sections of dialogue are repeated several times throughout, and each time, more meaning and depth is added, more of the plot is revealed. The focus is on the physiological, the turbulent relationships between characters and the complex mind of Cathy. Consequently, there is little set or prop use. This is especially effective as the writing is given space to shine on its own: which is really does.

The young actors have clearly read and re-read this script and every move is thoughtfully executed. Amy Marchant, or Cathy to us, is both convincing and commanding but full merit lies with Helen Kennedy, whose feline sexuality is spot on for the liberated, promiscuous Charlotte.

There is little more I can say, very little error in any aspect of the play. I suppose, in comparison to such strong characters as Cathy and Charlotte, the male characters do seem a little flat, regardless of both actors obvious potential.  This does, however, add contrast to the female leads and highlights the importance of their characters. A triumph especially for such a young cast. Highly recommendable, Truly enjoyable.