Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Sam has arrived in an institution where he will join Milo, Claudia, Rosie, Mags and Ruby. Cared for by Micky and Linda, this group of young people go through their recovery, or lack of it, onstage until Mags turns 18 and has to leave and then Sam gets well and is allowed to leave. In between there are plenty of relationships that show us the peaks and troughs of teenage angst coupled with extreme behaviour where an alarm is often the greatest sign of distress.
There is an inherent worthiness in tackling this issue. This young company deserve plenty of plaudits for trying to get the ideas and ideals of what they have observed and studied into the mainstream. The personal experiences are clear, and they weave into the narrative well enough.
The major problem which they have is whilst they are clearly playing to their ages, apart from the staff, this has the major drawback of a lack of experience from the other side. It leaves the script quite uneven. If we had the effect of these extreme behaviours or the stories of the staff who are attempting to find an effective way of caring for them, it would be strengthened. Much of the inequities of the system would be exposed by comparison rather than asking people to believe one side of the story.
The performances are also slightly patchy. The amount of enthusiasm that each have for their role and the empathy shown for each character is good, but the lack of experience does at time show through. At no time do they appear not to be acting at the right age but the ability to make it theatrical is slightly missing. There are no massive mistakes but sometimes making the transitions less stark between scenes and the way in which they behave towards each other onstage could be improved with a stronger directorial hand.
The structure of Sam’s entrance solo bookended with Sam being joined with the other side of that conversation at the end is the one place where it is very well handled.
Theatre arts were well enough employed with the alarm being the major part of that support. The music made for interesting choices and enhanced the production. Whilst I might have struggled to fit them with what I was seeing, they were upbeat enough as a counterpoint to the struggles onstage.
As a young group of performers this was an interesting narrative and storyline that made for a decent performance onstage to watch. They have got many of the basics right but just need a little guidance to tighten what they have, and it will manage to weld together in a much more effective manner.