Edinburgh Fringe 2018
On the surface the tale of an everyday nearly thirty-something woman dithering with commitment but as each layer is peeled back the complexity of a young life marred by tragedy is revealed. The performance space is a series of rooms in a non-descript Edinburgh flat through which the audience promenade with the actor.
Somebody is a play which begins in familiar angsty rom-com territory and though a gradual shift in tone reveals itself to be a much more painful story of how one life is shaped by individual tragedy. What do we ever know about the motivations of colleagues and friends as they make decisions shaped by their personal histories?
‘Girl’ (we never know her name), has just got home from a very public proposal. Darren is nice, lovely even, romantic certainly but is that enough she asks her best friend Katie. The playwright (Matilda Curtis) cleverly gives us the point of the view of the friend inviting us to be a little bit critical of this millennial with her first world problems. Katie makes a sensible suggestion, though, to help with the loves me/loves me not dilemma and encourages Girl to talk to ‘you’. We don’t know who ‘you’ is but we become stand-ins as Girl begins to tell us everything that has happened since ‘you’ left. It is a clever device to engage the audience.
In this scene opening scene Curtis introduces a fourth member of the quartet, now Katie’s husband. The four have known each other since they were young teenagers and as we scroll back in time reasons for ‘girl’s’ reluctance to commit to Darren make more sense. You begin to appreciate her capabilities, coping with both poor physical health and surviving a dark child hood event just hinted at. Here Curtis is a much stronger writer, cleverly avoiding the tropes of the standard rom-com cast list and presenting three dimensional players in Girl’s life story.
One actor (Dani Moseley) takes on all the characters and is as convincing as a 10 year old as a mature young women approaching 30; these shifts in age are very well done. She has good comic timing and handles the audience with confidence so we are keen to follow her from room to room.
The location is used to tell the story well in the hands of Director Bethany Pitts; each shift back in time happens in a different part of the flat. In some rooms noises from the streets outside drift in and this adds to the atmosphere provided by a minimal music sound track.
The play has a slightly disappointing start to what is otherwise an engaging and thoughtful piece. The opening monologue is very funny but perhaps too easy for the audience to bask in. Is there another way for this prologue to blend more with the main play that follows? Although it is not the strongest of the four in the Power Play showcase Somebody is still a good play worth discovering the Broughton Street venue for. Plenty of seats are provided for the audience in each space in the flat so don’t worry about it being a promenade performance.
Somebody is one of four plays by women, about women performed by women which form the Power Play showcase as part of the Pleasance programme. All four take place in the same Edinburgh flat on Broughton Street. All four explore current and urgent concerns of women living in the UK today.
The full Power Play programme is: