Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Serenaded by a live violin we enter the world of a relationship that has Sal and Pepper on the brink whilst Delia is initially unaware that she is about to become the catalyst. An adapted version of a full-length play, the narrative tells us of Sal and Pepper who have moved to where Sal will be a Professor at University. Delia is his colleague and the power play between them as Pepper tries to find her way into her new community is subtly explored. As the inevitable affair begins, we see how Delia looks for commitment unaware that only Pepper truly understands the nature of Sal’s commitment. In such circumstances it is easy to see that there is likely only one winner; only to find out that the real winner is the one let free by the end.
Written by the actor playing Delia, Maggie Diaz Bofill, the pedigree of the cast shows time and again. The experience of each allows the subtlety and interplay between each character to develop fully as each scene is allowed to build and breathe with correct timing.
The whole piece has subtlety throughout that reveals itself as time goes on and initially, for example, it is hard to see why Sal is with Pepper until you begin to comprehend his own frailties and – he may let you…
The femme fatale theme is obvious, but it has nuances. When Delia demands a night together to show that Sal is committed, he balks at that step; he runs home to the wife. Perhaps he was always going to do so but the power he had has been destroyed and the suave and charming Mephistopheles is now fetal and failed.
It takes a very good script to draw this out but also takes a firm hand upon the directorial tiller. You get the feeling that both have been applied here and there is true comfort in sitting back and watching the story develop. The quality of acting on display rarely wanes and the set pieces that include the wife telling the spurned lover of how good sex has been a particular comic triumph.
In its true form this is a straight play with universal themes, backed with a haunting presence from Melisa McGregor as composer and violinist that accompanies the mood onstage beautifully.
At times I did feel that the pace became a little ponderous. I would have made a touch more of the Goethe analogy but that may be the case in the full version. It’s always nice at the Fringe to see a set though this was OK but lacking any real flair – functional and not fancy. It led to a few set changes being laboured and finding the roller skates was a bit telegraphed.
Overall this truly had a sense of developed polish that may just need to bed into the Fringe, but it has true class oozing out of it. I really enjoyed it and if this is an indication of how the collaboration between these two companies is set to continue, I cannot wait to see what develops next.