Edinburgh Fringe 2013
This is a new piece of writing that introduces us to three characters at Beachy Head. Carol is there as a suicide prevention worker whilst Miles and Randy are there to jump. We learn of Miles’ problems with his girlfriend and Randy’s fall from grace as main man in glam rock band, Mammary Glams. Carol manages to get both down from the ledge and then we follow them as they come to terms with being alive whilst she helps them on a journey of discovery. It all ends very neatly as Miles learns his girlfriend didn’t commit suicide, Randy’s pretend gay persona gets lynched in his tour of Uganda and Carol returns committed to help others from jumping as her mother had committed suicide….
Three characters are presented to us at the cliff face in Beachy Head. Slowly their stories are revealed with Miles being distraught at the loss of his girlfriend in a car accident he is convinced she caused herself. With little more than chairs, a table and the lights we see Carol kiss Miles to stop him jumping whilst Randy comes out as a fraud. Randy is there because he wanted his suicide to be front page news due his band hardly being newsworthy of late. He craves the attention and the publicity. Once Carol and Miles have managed to get him down from the cliff he sets up another tour which ends with disastrous consequences. In a final revelation he admits to Miles in a letter that he was there when his girlfriend was killed. He lets Miles know she wasn’t driving.
Here’s the thing. It’s very neat; too neat. The cosmos must have been truly aligned the day that the man who saw the death of the other man’s girlfriend met him on a cliff as both contemplated suicide. Surely any investigation would have informed Miles that his girlfriend wasn’t driving? Add to that the fact that Carol was once saved from suicide by Miles and it begins to feel far fetched. If you don’t get that the whole story starts to unravel. That is not to say that the piece is not without merit as it is. It has some cracking lines and set pieces but that narrative arch needs sorted.
All three are engaging enough with Carol sweet and innocent with enough gutsiness about her to do her very difficult job. Miles is all tension and bewilderment until he returns to his previous job at the cliff. Randy doesn’t make it but he is the architect of his own demise with his own lies and need for publicity what gets him in the end. The performers are very equal to their tasks.
The lighting changes are a bit Blackpool illuminations. Changing lighting every ten or fifteen seconds gets very annoying after a while. As an audience we can get that one person talking whilst the other are standing still means the others cannot hear. Shakespeare had no problems with asides and monologues, nor should we. On a coupe, of occasions directorial choices appeared strange as people masked others but this was very occasional and overall the direction was light of touch and fairly assured.
As a showcase this certainly gave us plenty to see for the performers. I cannot see this getting another airing without some major surgery but there is the kernel of a very good idea in here. With some development I have no doubt that it would succeed far more and be far more believable. As a piece of new writing it works in many ways but needs just that tweaking that experience would bring and place this on another level. Having said that it has enough about itself to make it a very enjoyable hour and I was certainly glad I made the way back to the Cowgate to see it.