Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Three dark comedies in less than an hour on the top deck of a bus – Pint Size Plays all are tales with a twist delivered by three very capable women.
We are invited by the performenrs onto the top deck of a bus at the Free Sisters. This makes for a rather long end-on performance venue and not always hugely easy to see. Still no worse that some seats at the Theatre Royal in Brighton…
We are treated to three short, black comedies from the trio of female
actors. They tell us at the start they’ve tailored the show to the
venue, and they do it with frank humour. This is clearly not their usual space for these pieces and, to be honest, they work hard to make it work, but it doesn’t always serve the pieces well. Noise bleed is a problem as there’s tension to be found in these plays with a twist in each tale. I was sitting somewhere near the back and there was no difficulty hearing but it wasn’t easy to see and, as soon as there were pauses, all perefectly timed by the three actors, the noise from outside encroached all too quickly.
I’m not going to give any of the material away. Each story is engaging and interesting. The twists are a bonus to each, already estalbished bit of drama. There’s plenty of comedic interplay but more of what is to be heard makes it as far as the back seats than what is to be seen. Character acting is strong, rarely over the top, and there’s a tempo to the pieces that makes the time zoom by. Unfortunately, needed silences are not available on a bus, parked in an outdoor pub space. That’s a pity because some of the black comedy tension is lost that, I’m sure, would lift these plays towards something special.
Some attaempt is made to make the performance space into a virtue, but not enough. These performers deserve a better space for these short plays. I think more could have been made of the longness of the bus itself – all three pieces could have been reblocked (there was some clever use of the gangway in the second play). I think they need to bring more of the action into the length of the space; more dialogue across the bus, from back to front and vice versa.You have to claim a space, and they haven’t quite done that here. Play with the intimacy of a top-deck, fairly enclosed theatre, experiment with the acoustics even more; use the space to create the dramatic effect in more of a designed way.
These are accomplished performers and the writing is crisp and clever.
There’s diversity in the pieces. The venue really doesn’t help. Yet
even with the constraints of an air-con noisy venue, there’s enough
here for an engaging hour. Recommended.