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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Three Cities

Tit for Tat Theatre

Genre: Drama


 Sweet Grassmarket



Low Down

 We are brought into the venue which is small and perfectly formed. Within its confines and American, an Irish woman and an English one tells us their stories which are intertwined with set piece amusing events. This hints at their relationship being mother/daughter/aunt but these hints of connection do not cement like most of the script. 


 The set clearly has three actors sat at different tables. It becomes clear they are in different countries. I would presume they are in the three different cities of the title. We have an Irish ranting woman who has a vlog on which she has decided to rail against the world and the jihadists within it; at the other table an American dancer has been stood up so decides to make conversation with the waiter; and a third woman, heavily pregnant, is English and having to battle – very hard – with the NHS. I am still trying to work out just exactly what the script was trying to say. There were some nice touches and good comic moments but they were spread a tad thinly. I think it would have been better shorter. I also think we should have been left with the answer to whether they actually are inter related. If not I applaud how clever it was; if so how could two sisters end up with such startlingly different accents… The monologue from the US dancer, Ashley was probably the best of the bunch.
And so it was with the acting. Our Ashley did convince completely that she was soooo stood up. The Irish mother left me wondering why she was part of this. She had an accent thicker than the head of a Guinness left for three days in a freezer. It made her lines difficult to follow, the purpose or point of them occasionally lost and the significant lack of empathy you are meant to feel a tad redundant. The English pregnant lady resonated with me. I am neither English nor pregnant but have had plenty of cause to fall out with the NHS through their help (I use the term loosely,…) line.
There is a genuine sense that all three actors have great ability but I thought this might be a sneak preview of what they could actually achieve.
I liked the staging and the cramped conditions suited the piece well. It had set high standards and managed to continue to build on those standards through the performance. I was never less than convinced that Ashley was talking to the waiter or that the pregnant lady was speaking on the phone to a less than sympathetic midwife.
As a piece there is a nice concept in here and one which I would hope would be further developed and returned to at some point. The concept isn’t just sound, it is creative though it is far from original. Taking the audience on a journey of are they/are they not only works though if there is an answer to that question. It doesn’t work if you are left wondering… unless… the point of the piece like David Greig’s Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman he once Loved in the Former Soviet Union; it is clearly about the disconnected connectedness of our world. I thought the use of the internet and communication tools between the three would achieve that. It came close.

This is a performance piece that promises slightly more than it delivers. It does have disappointing elements within it but to be fair, I would not be disappointed to come and see this. I thought it dealt with an idea on one level but was just disappointed it fell a little short. My favourite part though was how one of the cast did that thing with a kit kat and a cup of tea.