Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Eve escapes her mind with work, drink and sex. No one sees past her carefully curated image of a woman in control. Until she loses it. Gabe is her new addiction. After another night of watching him flirt, this time with their waitress, Eve confronts the darkness in him. Memories of a childhood long ignored resurface when she realises that his pain lives in her too. Darlings uses tender puppetry, striking stage images and a brutally vulnerable script to explore a manipulative relationship and its connection to childhood experience.
A young woman languishes in a bathtub with gold taps centre stage while music plays “Love me, love me…” The set transforms into a café and two actors arrive, male and female chatting about stuff. These three 20 somethings are dealing with every day issues, some of them deepen and it becomes difficult to cope.
Gabe, the male character is spirited and wants to do things his way and try everything. The two female characters have other views on how their lives are shaping up and what they want.
The play written and directed by Eleanor Hope-Jones offers fascinating insights and situations via several scenes within the play, which show that young men and women think differently and both have to deal with inequalities and erroneous assumptions.
One scene that demonstrates an interesting point, is when Gabe a male character has a credit card yet it is passively assumed that the female character, Eve does not have one.
The quality of acting of all three actors is vibrant and fresh and the actor playing Eve is physical with lyrical movement and emotional depth.
Contemporary issues are at the fore and things that come up in the action, are alcohol, sex and childhood. During the play there is a fascinating flirty and fraught push pull among all three characters. The crafting of the play is well thought out and well written with authentic dialogue and flashes of humour.
Simple and effective lighting design adds to the atmosphere of day to night
There are some nifty transitions and the small stage space, quickly and efficiently becomes new locations with very small changes.
Two beautiful large puppets play childhood versions of Gabe and Eve to bring out delicate issues. Each puppet has a carved wooden head and is dressed like a typical young child. These scenes are poignant, moving and silent. What makes them so moving is the sensitivity of the puppeteers as they hold, carry and bring the puppet to life, and when they interact with the puppeteers themselves.
Dialogue and action continue with thoughtful pacing. The script is tight and firmly makes several points, one of which is that even small comments by parents can affect children for life. And what is more important is that the ramifications of such comments may affect relationships and achievements for years, and sadly, decades.
This play effectively brings to life visual expressions of the issues that today’s youth encounter. Families and young people of about thirteen years old or more should all see this play to learn and understand what could happen and how to address things in the future. Darlings is a compact play, that is well directed and acted and speaks to today’s youth. It is important and meaningful yet not over bearing or too didactic in its style. It is relatable, informative, entertaining and pulls on the heart-strings, all these ingredients make the best kind of theatre. Excellent production – a Hidden Gem!