Edinburgh Fringe 2013
What happens to hope at the end of the night
Tim Crouch and a smith
Venue: Forest Fringe - Out of the Drill Hall
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
What happens to hope at the end of the evening is a look at male friendship and at what happens in a theatre between audience and performers. Tim up north on an anti fascist demo goes to stay with his old friend, Andy. The two try to reconnect. That’s the story, more or less, but what happens between audience and performers is as important.
Tim Crouch and Andy Smith respect their audience; they explore the space between the audience and the actor/performer and leave you all the spaces in between to think. What happens to hope at the end of the evening is a playful and thoughtful play that covers the territory of identity and connection, friendship and loneliness – oh yes, and above all, what theatre can do.
Ostensibly it’s a simple story: two old friends who haven’t met for twenty years meet up again and revisit their friendship. Both have been involved in the anti-fascist movement. Tim Crouch’s character still is, and has come to the north west for a demo. He arranges to stay the night at Andy’s house near Lancaster; Andy has now settled down with a wife, a child and another on the way. The two characters circle round each other with all the communication skills of two grizzly bears.
The two characters have moved on since they last saw each other. Both are married: Andy happily, Tim’s marriage, it transpires is unravelling. Tim is still protesting, though rather ineffectually, while Andy stays home and gets on with his own life. Tim feels Andy’s sold out; Andy wants to tell Tim to grow up. Andy repeatedly calls Tim ‘mate’ like a long forgotten mantra, while Tim wants Andy to come and be closer to him.
Andy tells us throughout that he is waiting for his friend. Initially this seems a statement of the real situation, but increasingly with Tim in the room with him, you feel he is waiting for the friend of twenty years ago to arrive and is unable to connect to the Tim who’s here and now.
The two characters are on the stage at the same time, they’re part of the same story and yet they’re occupying very different spaces. Tim is acting – his character is not Tim – he’s made up as characters in plays tend to be. Andy, on the other hand, well, he’s Andy Smith: Andy is doing a PhD in drama, has got a Norwegian wife and another one on the way. Tim rants and reels his way around the stage; Andy sits calmly to one side reading his lines and talking straight to audience. Tim is acting; Andy is performing. They are telling two parts of the same story but they are not interacting with each other. The form here very much mirrors and adds to the story.
Technically the play feels very simple: the lights are one state throughout, audience and performers in the same harsh stare. The characters come in with the audience. They share the same space, we share that space with them – but there are gaps in the spaces between them and between us. How do we transcend those gaps and move beyond self?
“This is one of my favourite places to be” Andy Smith tells us (one of my favourite’s too when the theatre’s as good as this). While the story of What happens to hope has something to tell us about male friendship, the play has much more to say about what happens in the theatre between audience and performers, about the treatment of reality in theatre and about who is performing and who is acting, on and off the stage.
What happens to hope is a play that lodges questions in your head that continue to be teased out long after the performance has finished.