Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald and their history as told by two performers who inhabit the characters, the spirit of the times and an age where there was little that could be done wrong and plenty you could be blamed for. Performed in a small and intimate setting we are entertained in a large and intimate way as the story of how they met, fell in love, married and then fell apart is told with gusto.
The story of F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda is one of hedonistic joy. They both met and shared a walk that went beyond the wild side until Zelda became pregnant. The birth of a girl, Little Scottie, led to Scott becoming a doting father whilst Zelda was still the party girl. A second pregnancy that ended tragically meant that Scott sent Zelda way for treatment and when he returned to pick her up announced the end of the affair. His subsequent fall into despair and drunkenness no doubt hastened an end that was as tragic as anything he wrote.
This is a crisply well written piece of theatre. Jenna May Hobbs has proven herself to be a playwright that deserves special mention. With an opening that has improvisation working the audience it breaks out into a journey that is more than a white knuckle ride. It is the ultimate white knuckle ride. Crisp, sparkling and enthused with charm this is a captivating piece to watch.
It is so captivating because of the undeniably exceptional performances of Katherine Hardman as Zelda and Craig Hamilton as Scott. Their youthfulness is needed as this is a tough gig. The relentless nature of the piece means they are “on” at all times but you get a sense of enjoyment that comes from them. They are enjoying this as much as we are and their performances capture Zelda’s recklessness and selfishness whilst Scott is imbued with impatience and recklessness with a sense of fun over the top for good measure. This is astonishing in actors so young and the maturity with which they approach this is delightful. Their dancing is particularly impressive!
The set is exactly what is needed and no doubt the days of trying to fit it into the small space will be hard and tough but in a Festival where having any kind of set can be rare this is why you need one. It is an extra performer that takes us to the world which is being inhabited onstage. The lights that are kept on the audience from the room itself is an added bonus because the intimacy of the venue means you are now very much a participant in the action. The only problem with the venue and the set is sight lines at one side where the screen is placed and for some of us a few bits of the action get obscured.
For such a young company this is a very impressive piece of theatre. It may be condescending to suggest it’s a grown up piece from a toddling company but if they continue to match the level of skill they demonstrate here then White Slate will be mentioned much in the future.
The Fringe does tend to attract the experimental and long may that continue but occasionally what you get is a wee gem and Your Fragrant Phantom is mine. I look forward to their return and will be keeping an eye on them for the future.