Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Women Laughing was originally created for radio, the second half of the piece added to bring it to stage. Big Girl’s Don’t Eat Soap make it clear to the audience that only half of the play, due to time restrictions, is being performed but this certainly doesn’t take away from the strength of the piece. Dark and thoughtful, this young company bring a difficult script to life with definite professional slick.
Tony and Colin make small talk in the garden, the laughter of their wives audible from inside the house. Their laughter is provoked, it is soon revealed, by the revelation that both men are seeking psychological help. The piece explores the lives of these four characters, their anxieties and their emotional well-being.
All four actors are strong throughout, the males dealing with difficult and undulating characters well and convincingly. The two female characters are suitably cliquey and silly but, perhaps, the actresses could have worked slightly harder to create more depth to the characters: Stephanie, in particular isn’t a silly, air-headed bimbo like Maddy but this isn’t entirely clear in this production. More work is needed to produced a definite difference between the women and, at the moment, they are in danger of becoming the same person.
The script is full of blackly comic material and all four of the cast work hard to bring this to audience attention. It is evident that the production have worked hard to give this production a sharp comic edge, as well as being a serious and dark piece of theatre.
The main difficulty with this production is the space and how the cast are directed around it. Small and cramped, the Spaces is a far cry from the outside setting that the piece is set in. Luckily everyone is willing to execute some theatrical license but there is continual problem with blocking and very little movement. I am aware that, on the whole, the characters are stationary: for most of the piece the men are sitting and talking, but frequently actors stand blocking their contemporaries for too long and for no reason. With minimal plot – the focus with Wall is the characters, not what’s happening- and minimal movement, the piece can feel stilted from time to time.
However, the four actors have really excelled in bringing to life these troubled characters and the show is engaging and enjoyable. More work is needed on direction and movement to give it a bit more fluidity.