Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Three chairs, three actors and one cult. The stage is set and the arrival of journalist, Sean, to the cult hideout, where he meets Riley before being constantly surprised when Neil arrives. Neil is the guru and after Sean has been seduced by Riley, introduced into the cult and their funny little ways and then decides it is time for him to leave, despite falling for Riley, things take a twisted turn.
Directed by Finn Den Hertog who has not one but at least three very well received pieces at the Fringe, this year this has enough of a directorial hand in the mix that, although they rarely get out of their chairs, you get a real sense of how this would look in a full production – very impressive. There are looks and glimpses which cement the relationships and without the movement it does make perfect sense and looks as though it has a great deal of potential.
Our actors have each character drawn within their heads sufficiently that they manage to draw us into their interpretations with great skill. Riley is absolutely the flirty recruiter who starts by inviting Sean under her blanket before challenging his perceptions and purpose. Sean, looking for all like a refugee from Biffy Clyro, has the caustic hopefulness of the young journalist who turns from sceptic to convert – to Riley, not the cult. Neil, plays his role perfectly as the innocent who turns out to be far less than that.
Readings, which end with just chairs and very little opportunity to move around means you have the words to depend upon and only them. This script has some areas where it could develop, particularly the relationship between Sean and Riley which appears to be a little surface and lacking depth before there is a transformation of sorts within the script. Aside from that I really enjoyed it and thought it held up very well to scrutiny. The twist at the end is sheer genius and it brings all of the strands together in a succinct and pleasing manner.
The Traverse will only continue to be the theatre of new writing in Scotland if they can prove they have a handle on quality. The early morning slot of the Breakfast Plays for me, have always been a fascinating testing of that claim. Here they sailed along with flying colours, passing any test that the investment they have made in Mooning is not only well placed but promises a much better future once they carefully craft it to full performance. I shall look very much forward to seeing that!