Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Dad is not well and Pauline has been the diligent daughter and stayed at home to look after him. Sister Rachel has been away at University and has now arrived home, as the prodigal alternate, for a visit – or is it more? Over the next 70 minutes, Rachel and Pauline peel back their relationship, the way that this is anchored in their shared past, the way in which their mother left and why one of them may be looking for her which heighten the fractures in their relationship.
Acted by three people, Charlotte Bate as Pauline, Charlotte O’Leary as Rachel and Toyin Omari-Kinch as everybody else, these are characters given flesh in an excellently pieced together examination of relationships by writer, Charley Miles. The storyline has been woven in such a way that we get each nuance and each relationship between them. There are revelations alongside what may be in danger of becoming the sterotypes of a sister that cares and one that appears not to, but Miles brings sufficient plot to the table to challenge those lazy assumptions. Plot points are mostly given room to breathe and are presented and given to us at just the right time for us to reconsider, reflect and challenge our own assumptions.
There is a complex yet understandable structure which allows each narrative to have a focus and then for the revelations to build and create a whole storyline that challenges what we may have thought before. This works well if the direction is crisp and the performances on point. Here, Paines Plough and Theatr Clywyd have hit pay dirt. Both fuse together in a confident performance piece that shows off the words and script to their best.
On a couple of occasions, though, I had to try and connect the flashbacks with the present but quickly the performances established the timeline for me.
The absence of a set on the one hand allows the pace to stay at the level it does but also removes some of the visual clues we might have hoped to see. Costume is left to be what we see from the beginning and again the advantage of having less to get in the way has also got the disadvantage of refusing us the most obvious of clues as to where we were in the history of the narrative.
It is, however, a minor gripe as the range of emotional abilities on display from both Charlottes and Omari-Kinch make it a fleeting moment of confusion before we are again launched into the narrative.
At 70 minutes this is a story that probably needs a little longer in which to make more of an impact and a full scale two act version would probably be possible but not in the context of a Fringe show. As it stands there are complex issues receiving very deep analysis with some of the angst on display. I would love to see much more of this story and part of that comes from the artistic beauty of the script, the acting and the direction on display here.