Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Fine writing, directing and some special acting: so fast -no time to laugh!
What a joy! What a delight to hear the English language written so skilfully and spoken so well: Shakespeare, Sheridan and Shaw would surely have shaken the hand of Dr Sean Lang and Director Sabrina Poole and their lovely Cast – and would certainly have admired the clarity at speed of the talented Alexander Banks (the poet Shelley), and the precision and word value delivered by equally talented Laura Williamson (Lord Eldon): for sure these are two actors to be watched.
From the moment the lights came up and we saw the neat simplicity of the setting and then Banks entered and without a word took possession of the stage, your Reviewer had a good idea he’d be in for a treat: and as soon as Banks spoke it was clear his command of the English language was as skilful in its way and a worthy match for Dr Lang’s dialogue: they were made for each other. Director Sabrina Poole had the skill to allow the words to speak for themselves: the clarity, simplicity and efficiency of her direction were to be greatly praised.
Described as a ‘boisterous comedy’, The Necessity of Atheism seemed in effect more an opportunity for Shelly to argue he had a right to give offence, then to justify the contention that Atheism was actually necessary – unless the existence of Something was implicit. A second act, enlarging on the Theist argument that Theism does not rely on scientific proof, could be considered, making a full length play of this tantalising ‘first act’. Dr Lang will undoubtedly be able to propose a sophisticated Argument for the Necessity for God: without which Atheism wouldn’t have a leg to stand on – your inadequate Reviewer wouldn’t have had anything to write about – nor would this delightful play in hand been written in the first place!
The supporting Cast gave colourful flesh to The Dean (of Shelley’s Oxford College), Dawkins the College Chaplain, and Hogg, Shelley’s exasperated and ever loyal friend: an excellent team.
Perhaps the audience could have been given a little more time to catch up and laugh, and more of a hint from the start that it was ok to do so. Costume wise ( and this is probably an unfair remark as the limitations of the Fringe are legion) perhaps Shelley could have been dressed more elegantly Wilde than frippery Dandini: too many frills spoil the mirth. The controlled chaos of the nightmare was enjoyable and more ‘moments’ of fun to scare the Dean could perhaps be worked in if the production is mounted again as it should be.
What is the Fringe all about? First and foremost it is to speak the unspoken: to air the subjects and address the issues which Commercial Theatre would drop like a hot potato: it is to challenge the Establishment. Equally importantly the Fringe is to introduce new writing and new performers, directors and designers onto the Theatre scene – especially when casting directors today seem Hell bent on using the same handful of over exposed actors.
Banks’s charm, clarity and wit at speed, and Williamson’s hysterical eyebrows which spoke volumes, and the perfect placement and value to the words given by both actor and actress, ensure that this elegantly written and witty piece will remain in you Reviewer’s memory for a long time.