Edinburgh Fringe 2010
A young man wakes up in a prison cell. How did he get there? he has no recollection. This is a well conceived, well acted play by a brand new Scottish company that makes good use of multimedia.
The action takes place in the second person as the actors ask us: ‘Imagine if this had happened to you? what would you do?’. Starting in the prison cell we go into a nightclub where young James witnesses a man hitting his wife, to his home and his abusive father and the bullies who chase and beat him. All this corrupts him and he starts watching slasher pics, reading real crime books and and collecting weapons. He becomes a skinhead and a wholly negative chain of influences leads him to commit his crime.
The script, by Glasgow playwright Davey Anderson is not an original one, but it is insightful and urgent and very well told, continually asking us to imagine ourselves in James’s shoes. In fact we go right inside the head of the character, a fresh way of presenting the perception of another person on stage. They frequently talk out to the audience, telling the story in a direct, refreshingly non-theatrical style. The action unfolds at a cracking pace, and the movement in between scenes as the actors maneuver chairs and tables over and around each other is slick and impressive. The multimedia is played on three screens, thus it’s a dominant feature, and is used as a kind of subconscious element of the storytelling. It is racy, like the action, and along with the lively soundtrack in the Trainspotting vein, make up the impressive media design.
Director Neil Bettles has also done a great job with his young actors. The action is well crafted and exciting. Tom Vernel as James puts a lot of energy and commitment into his performance, sometimes a little too much, but he is clearly getting a lot out of being on stage and should be one to watch. Danielle Stewart also plays the mother with pathos and maturity. All the actors are good and work very well together.
This is an impressive piece of work by this brand new company, and one feels that their work will only get better and better.