Edinburgh Fringe 2019
This is a show where the casting is decided by the audience and leads to a Georgian England rip roaring romp being played out in front of us with men possibly in the female roles and women possibly playing men. The story is that of a woman in high position looking for love and a rugged man in the country looking for love. They are both of the right pedigree but afraid of commitment less it narrows their options. With randy servants and unrequited love from one of the male servants we have the recipe for an 18th Century backdrop to a late 20th Century sexual misadventure.
Apparently, there are 120 combinations randomly on offer but what is undoubted is that there is enough enthusiasm in the room for this to have legs to play out in each of those combinations for the entire run. We are introduced, enthusiastically, to each actor and then they inform us, enthusiastically, of the characters they might get to play. Names on paper are put in a bag and random people from the audience are asked to pick from the bag to allocate roles.
Once the roles are established the script is gone through and set pieces abound. We have the country house scene where the bored lady of the manor sits. We have the travelling man of stature who visits scene after being seen through the drawing room window. We have the servants seeing each other and fancying each other from the beginning. We get the manservant who loves his mistress but knows that is an impossible place for him to be and we get their randy servants desperate to consummate anything at all.
The subject matter of farce is gone at with gusto. They may be young, but they are up for a laugh. There are several in the situations, but the subject matter just felt a little dated.
The actors kept things motoring along with crisp enough direction that makes you think there is a basic set of instructions and dependent upon who gets what, there are places it could be taken. It is that lack of directorial freedom that, ironically, I think hinders them. In the hands of a more experienced group of improvisors this could really take off and we could explore the issues that would arise with two male actors being the love interest. There are also many possibilities of two female interests coming out the bag and I wonder if we had the opportunities in place if this able cast could cope; I think they might.
It has a functional set with the team able to use it effectively. Lights are sparingly used, costume is also functional and we get the general idea without too much frippery.
It’s a pleasant 45 minutes and there are glimpses of a team that have been doing it for long enough that they have it sorted without too much of an issue; I just wonder if they had more liberty and less structure if they would gather more laughs.