Edinburgh Fringe 2018
The story of how Nell Gwynn got in and got ready to snare a King is told as she wants to make it into the Playhouse where the women inside have swept men off the stage but still face the usual perceived proclamations of their lax morals. Nell manages to scheme her way inside before the playhouse ends in a fire. She is left wondering what comes next but we all know that she manages to survive whilst the other cast of characters did not fare quite as well as she.
A preacher’s daughter and the mistress of an Earl, the future King’s mistress and the daughter of a man who once kept bears, the wife of the manager getting that bit older and a younger version who shall replace her onstage opposite her husband; the stage is rich with convention and ideals as well as age old issues that deserve both an airing and exploration. The six characters welcome us whilst sitting and we are entertained as they each come alive.
The beginning and the end being given a nice touch by the acapella singing that is both harmonised and suggests a harmony about to be thoroughly disrupted.
This is well structured and the relationships between each of the characters well defined with plenty of interaction between them that drives the narrative and opens each character more fully up to us. Where I found it a little less engaging is that it really needs a sense of ensemble beyond that which it currently has. There are some decent performances and some good performances, but it needs to feed off itself to go into the realms of some excellent performances. It feels like it hit a plateau and is happy to sit there.
With a script that does offer opportunities to delve deeper and showcase some of the obvious abilities onstage this is a bit disappointing, but the vigour and vitality of each actress is well worth the entrance money.
It is very well directed with the end mirroring the beginning and therefore giving us a framework in which it sits comfortably. The stories of each, particularly our principal narrator, Doll and the demise of Mrs Farley are well drawn out. Doll and Mrs Farley’s beginning and end shows an added sense of structure that gives the show a focus and more importantly a secure foundation.
I did enjoy Playhouse Creatures and the current issues around women in all walks of life make it an apposite play for the Fringe in 2018. This is a young company who have brought a challenging piece to Edinburgh and not sat back on what might be comforting. With a bit of a push this could be moved beyond the recommended into higher spheres, but it needs to have more confidence in itself. I can confirm that one thing is definitely for sure – it was certainly never turnip bollocks.