Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Yasmina Reza proves that Art was no fluke with an excellent script that delves into the lives of two sets of parents – Michel and Veronique; Annette and Alain. YO10 Productions prove equal to the task of how parents who meet to sort the assault perpetrated by one of their children upon the other dissolves into petty squabbles about big issues. Tensions are exposed and explored as we see the uneasy consensus blown away by the winners whilst the losers turn out to be implicated in more than just their child battering another one.
This is a young company who take on this intense drama where they play characters at the edge of their playing range very well. With the endorsement of the National Student Drama Festival behind them we see Alain and Annette at a meeting to discuss with Michel and Veronique how their little one is guilty of whacking the other little one with a stick; to make matters worse Michel and Veronique ‘s child has two broken teeth for his trouble. What follows is not as it would seem as we are confronted by Alain’s persistent telephoning which reveals he is dealing with a media crisis on a pharmaceutical that might not be altogether safe; Michel’s mother is taking the drug. Annette become sick and throws up on the coffee table, Veronique becomes increasingly irate that her little one has been subjected to such thuggery and Michel appears unlikely to keep a peace he so devoutly wishes.
Reza’s writing just zings with wings. There are set pieces set up beautifully and verbal jousts that are a study in how to write properly. Thanks for that must go to Christopher Hampton who has translated the play from French but the source material has to be there in the first place. Just how Annette is able to stay married to a man who may be responsible for condoning the poisoning or killing of people but she cannot get her head round how Michel may well have killed a hamster is one example of how hypocrisy sits at the heart of this.
These are young actors who may be in their early twenties playing people who ought to be in their late twenties/early thirties. You simply don’t see the joins. All four have a ball and are fantastic in their roles. Take note of Max Fitzroy-Stone, Helena Clarke, Lily Cooper and George Rowell for the future.
The set was great too with the hint of pretention coupled with the marvellous paintings in the background. I would have made more of those and thought they were a little hidden away. The noise pollution from other parts of the venue were a little distracting but the crisp direction employed by Rory McGregor was assured and very in tune with the play itself; this was crisp throughout. There were some marvellous set pieces including the phone and the tulips which just made me laugh out loud.
As a piece of theatre for young people to take on as an acting piece this is a real stretch. It has such huge subtleties – if you can ever have that as a concept – but the performances have to be measured to match it. Too much and it looks odd, too little and it is lost. In all areas this was a cast that had nailed the play. Minor gripes aside I would heartily look out for any of them in the future. They have proven with this they are equal to any task.