Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Malcolm has something in his mind, not just on it. Starting with a consultation with his brain surgeon doctor, we see and hear all about the hedgehog that has taken up residence there. Taking that as an absurd premise we then move onto how his girlfriend takes the news, supports him in preparing for some kind of surgery to have it removed and that is when things get even more strange. Julie, his girlfriend gets bothered by his refusal to countenance the loss of his hedgehog, his father, Stanley, gets hot and bothered with the Doctor, Cheryl and then the hedgehog gets pregnant. It ends with breakups, surgery and dad and the doctor are an item.
In amongst the script there is a very decent idea that peaks its way out. The premise being that if something is in us, then it may influence us. This strikes me as a very decent start and at times the script had enough about itself to really show how people can be affected by things that are inside them, and then it lost faith in itself and found plotlines to interfere – like dad and the doctor. It needed to stick with the central; theme a lot more.
Young companies that do not have access to people old enough to play their parents will always struggle to cast appropriately old enough looking actors to play them. Here we had the issue of there needing to be a cross gender parent. In an absurdist comedy, it seemed strange that we did not get a mother and a possible relationship cross sexually? Making it a more traditional relationship of father/ son took the casting into territory in which it appeared less than comfortable. Visually, the oldest onstage looked like Malcolm who ought to have possible been at most the second youngest.
Directorially there were safe options being taken too where the absurd nature of the storyline would have been better explored with the same craft obvious in the consultations with the scientist and the philosopher. I really liked those as I did the family meal and anywhere there was a chance to give full throttle to getting “out there”.
There were also some odd choices with regards to the lighting fading at points and coming in strongly at others – it too required boldness. The other theatre arts were effectively applied though the handwritten sign at the back was a little off putting – it gave it the wrong air of being thrown together rather than more planned and professional.
I came away from this having liked it, felt that the idea was good but some of the practices and implementation of them let it down a little. More confidence in the idea would have helped build it into a bolder piece of theatre and I would have enjoyed that even more. There was, however, enough in this to suggest that having taken the bold chance at the Fringe, this is a company who, with the right encouragement could take that next bold step too.