Edinburgh Fringe 2010
City flats where singles can be alone in a crowd. No-one knows their neighbours and everyone looks the same. But behind the apparent monotony lies a wealth of stories, some funny, some sad. And some just a little bit crazy.
Four girls, two boys, all looking alike, androgynous even, sitting around a sofa. A chaotic and cluttered set displays all the detritus of modern day tenement flat living. Anarchic pop music blares out. Welcome to 54, home to six singles each with a story to tell. Identical people, distinguished only by the difference in their door mats. Sort of like Friends, but without the co-habitation and coffee-shop chumminess.
Pint-Sized Tom Productions’ 54 focuses on being alone in a crowd, a life that will seem familiar to many a single, city-flat dweller. Love, a cat, TV nap-time with some vivid dreams, making lists, a shower and other vignettes populate this nicely scripted and choreographed piece of theatre.
The sextet were in their element when using movement and dance to illustrate the stories and as link pieces between the narratives. Movement created the image of a busy street, a shower and dreams allowing their creativity as dancers to become evident. But the tight choreography (which ranged between the engagingly lively and the sensuous) was in marked contrast to some of the dialogue delivery.
For whilst the script itself was rich in pathos, poignancy and no little humour, it was a pity that more thought had not been given to the narration that was a significant part of each story. Narration focused on the central figure in each tale but was delivered in a flat, almost monotonal style. I can see what they were perhaps trying to do – using flat delivery to emphasise the monochromatic lifestyle of their subject but, in so doing, we lost most of the finer nuances of the script as well as the narrators having a tendency to swallow phrases and lines.
And maybe it’s Fringe Fatigue on my part, but I thought we might have covered the ground we did in less than the hour’s performance. Less is often more and some of the themes in the stories were starting to repeat themselves as the show developed.
No matter. They got it right in the end with a lovely piece as the flat dwellers retired, one by one, to bed, each saying their goodnights before turning out their bedside light to leave the stage in final, restful, darkness. Appropriate, given that most of the Fringe ends today.