Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Alice Campbell is not having a good Festival. Steve, in the audience, is wanting to learn comedy. Being overly appreciative in the audience leads to Alice taking Steve under her wing to help him prepare for a gig in a fortnight which is designed to impress his partner. Steve struggles to get out of being a “standard” man and Alice has struggle to make him see that his weaknesses are funny. He worries about his partner spending too much time taking about her co-worker who allegedly is funny. Inevitably, the co-worker seems to be interested in more than talking and Steve finds that his new pathway may turn out to be the lonely one of a clown. Alice helps to make that happen, never intentionally and without humour attached.
This has many layers which allows the comedy to have its own platform, whilst Alice plays the caustic and Steve the awkward, the chemistry is fierce friendly. She may not see what is coming and playing the paid sage does her well whilst the ever patient and understanding Steve seems unable to understand that spending too much time on his new hobby means that his partner might have other ideas. Alice meanwhile manages to get it on with his chess boxing friend Ethan.
The script is funny. The direction manages to keep the pace up when needed and slow down when not. Both actors have their characters down to a fine tee and their relationship sizzles with believability. I found it really interesting and despite its late night slot, it kept me intrigued as to what was likely to happen next. Though it avoided the cliché of them getting together, it ended with them reconciled and him offering her dinner.
There is little by way of theatricality and the boards telling us 2 weeks to gig etc were a functional necessity. The lighting was up and down as per the requirements of drawing the second actor from the audience and then performing to the audience. Props and costume spot on and I liked the touch of him coming in dinner suit for his slot.
It is however his second slot, the one after he is left by his partner and he mimics suicide that has genius on its side. Its hardly original but t fits beautifully with his new and less naïve persona. It is that narrative arc that is what motors the piece. Alice is essential to be the driving force behind that and when she shows vulnerability it highlights more of his – they work superbly well as a double act.
As it ends and they disappear, I could have stayed for some more and that is exactly how you should leave an audience. Lesson over.