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Edinburgh Fringe 2018

The Empty Chair

Power Play Theatre and Polly Creed

Genre: Site-Specific, Theatre

Venue: Pleasance


Low Down

This site-specific, immersive play takes you behind the walled communities of Beverly Hills into the cloistered setting of a Hollywood after-party in the early hours of the morning, examining the human experiences behind the #MeToo movement.


Set in someone’s elegant living room this generational play unfolds with small talk around a large dining table. Four friends have just returned from an event and decide to have a drink at one of their homes. After a while, they loosen up and start confiding in each other. The four characters, three female and one male take turns leaving the room which opens up opportunities to deepen their conversations in smaller groups. Three characters are young, stylish and successful – and one one is of a different generation, according to her dialogue and references to the good old eighties when she was younger.

Their painful stories are about sexual harassment experiences and with two generations telling, listening and reacting to them, there are some different points of view among the group, which is interesting. There are emotional moments from each character and the actors are very effective with the realistic back and forth dialogue and chit chat in between the dramatic monologues.

The male actor is the most successful in his monologue performance because he breaks the fourth wall and speaks it facing the audience with a few glances of direct eye contact. This may be a character choice, because he does not want his three friends to know that he is ashamed or it could be a directorial reason, however, it is an impactful well acted monologue.

All the actors are very good at listening to each other, with natural reactions, in character, which is fascinating to watch. They are earnestly sincere and support each other with subtle and intense looks or avoidance by looking down or at another place in the room.

There is no doubt that the topic is serious and important and that this play is interesting but several things could benefit from finessing. The script is a little predictable in format, and parts of the spoken dialogue – especially two of the four monologues which we really want to hear – were extremely soft in volume, so it was difficult to hear their spoken words, even in such a small room when the actors are very close to the audience. Finally the actor playing the older woman with her grand dame gestures and strident voice is less believable than the other characters, partly because she looks to be the same age as everyone else and is exaggerating her performance to compensate. No doubt the run of the play will provide the opportunity to fulfill its promise.