Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Bethany is at her own 21st birthday party and has popped out for a fag. Whilst out, and unable to light up, she starts the story of how, when at school she became infamous for the relationship she had with someone at her school. Taking you from first encounter through to the end, this does not follow conventional patterns, teasing and hinting as well as making fun of some of the experiences she encountered. By the end you leave understanding why theatre does this tale so much more justice than any newspaper headline.
One actor, one stool, one spotlight. That is all that is needed to keep you on your toes and completely uncomfortable. Grace Vance gives us the story of Bethany who was all gob and opinion when someone decides to shower some attention on her. The reaction she has to it seals the future for both though she does admit to some of the good times and how she enjoyed a great deal of the relationship.
The script, by Rachel Ruth Kelly, is exceptional. Whilst Vance gives it feeling, emotion and a great deal of vulnerability, the script has focus, skill and depth. We do not know what has happened completely until close to the end and though there is no doubt that our guesses and the hints given lead to one very simple conclusion, there is enough of the teasing and the manipulation of the audience that it does not trundle out but trickles, keeping us engaged and wanting to know more.
With so little by way of theatre arts, the lighting and music are minimal, we have the script and the actor alone on which to concentrate. For many young companies they can buckle under such pressure but not here. The combination of Vance, Kelly and the crisp direction take this onto another level and it is one, whilst uncomfortable, we want to travel. From the angry young woman who does not want to have any more Aerosmith to the vulnerable and shaky victim to the young woman who wants the whole truth and nothing but it out in the open we get an acting treat, a text of depth and are directed well in the hour Vance shares the stage with us.
This shows a great deal of skill that has been honed by previewing the piece prior to coming to Edinburgh. I think it shows and what we get is something that is already in a zone well worth watching. Popcorn Productions, should they keep this level of expertise up, are also well worth watching in the future.