Edinburgh Fringe 2013
"Fast paced and high energy, Blaggards is an exhilarating and innovative piece of theatre." British Exist Theatre bring this 50 minute long play by Bethan Francis to the Free Fringe.
"You’ll find this bar in every town.The bar where the drinks come cheap and the girls are cheaper, where the music’s loud and if there wasn’t a fight then you probably weren’t there."
This is a new play about Generation Y and it takes a fairly gritty stand, a shadowy look at a generation that is reminiscent of the work of Philip Stokes and Horizon Arts.
Staging is fairly simple, a hanging rail for costumes, a table and chairs, some props and a decent sound and music backdrop, used well to introduce and give context to the piece.
Writing wise it’s a decent script and the cast do welll to stay focused with various staff from the venue coming in and out during the performance. They are playing a bit above their age so there’s a bit of suspension of disbelief needed for some of the characters they play, but I found my attention held and this is an engaging, well rounded piece of writing that takes you on a journey worth taking. Blaggards is a bar, the dirtiest dive in town, and a few dirty deeds are waiting to be revealed as this piece progresses. Described in its publicity as an "nonstop assault on the senses". It isn’t that at all and I am glad it isn’t – its a good dialogue play. If they want to keep that promise this piece will have to be physically and vocally transformed.
The style is naturalistic, and the actors need to inhabit the skins of their characters more for this piece to really pack a punch. The two actors carry the script well, fluently and have a strong rapport which is essential for a two hander. But they need to take this a lot further – too much of the dialogue is wedded to delivering the lines. We need better pacing, pausing, allowing the dialogue to breathe. The energy is there, the focus is there and now these actors need to fully lift this writing off the page. But I do want to praise these two actors for their concentration and commitment. They do hold the play well. They do carry a story worth seeing.
Exploring the "get wasted, sort out our shit tomorrow" generation, this play offers us a window on a world, a couch surfing, blogging and drug-dealing world where young people are always strategising what comes next – shit pay, basic tips, free food and a place to stay.
Overall I recommend this as a solid bit of younger theatre that’s more than engaging enough and deal with its material well. Sit close to the front and give this play the attention it deserves in a venue with a lot of distracting noise. It will mature as its run develops over the Fringe.