Edinburgh Fringe 2016
A young woman in the big city attempts to make a match between a successful man and woman who clearly won’t do it themselves. Good physicality and storytelling skills in this production from Spun Glass.
As the audience enters the Studio space at Zoo Southside they are greeted by a disarmingly charming Marie Rabe – she is, we are informed, the perfomer. There’s a bit of Beyonce playing and she moves about to it, slightly inhibited. There’s a dance company upstairs she says – we can hear their feet – she jokes that we can’t see them but they’re really good moves in our imaginations.
This story is about haves and have-nots in the big city – not just about financial or career success, but lost hearts, seeking their other half for completion – there is, after all, someone for everyone isn’t there? – well that’s the theory according to Richard Curtis.
She’s in a dead-end job, which she’s very good at and there are clever hints of OCD sprinkled into the mix, subtly defining the behaviour. From her run-down apartment, she can see a man – and a woman – alone in separate, adjacent and expensive departments, observing that “They are clearly winning at life”. As they resolutely ignore each other, she makes it her mission to bring them together, but each successive gambit, though well-meaning, has unintended consequences. A bit like a referendum, she remarks. There’s more than a hint of parody here too, gently mocking the predictability of latter-day rom-coms and boy-gets-girl happy endings.
The piece is marked by episode numbers which gives the audience a natural break point as it advances. Rabe has a nice physicality, with precise placement of buildings, streets and objects – there’s good clarity in her stagecraft.
There’s great attention to detail in the natural quality of Rabe’s delivery of Jennifer Williams’ sinewy text, which is for the most part poised and enjoyable and Jessica Cheetham’s direction is sensitive. However, overall the piece feels a little too evenly-paced and lacks a little colour – a little more emotional gear-changing and rise and fall in the orchestration of the piece as a whole would yield dividends.
A single old-fashioned large light bulb provides the only bit of set – and a focal point – glowing at various intensities to indicate, perhaps, moments of inspiration – and occasionally deflation.
This is a piece of accomplished solo storytelling and Rabe makes a good, relaxed connection with the audience as she embarks on her noble quest to change the world – well, for two people at least.