Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Three couples meet to play games. We have the player with his latest girlfriend – who happens to be Italian; the couple who have known themselves since High School, are married and all is not well; and their friend who has found a new man. We are in his house. We are in their traditional gathering of what they like to do as a night in. during the course pf the night, one gets accused of paedophilia, one admits to an affair, one has had enough and leaves, a neighbour ends up tied up in the kitchen and several get punched. The ending is all about what this leaves them with the idea that love truly does hurt.
As we stand ready to enter we are ushered in by two people outside who turn out to be one of the couples, to enter the performance space. Their whooping and excitement and enticement are part of their games’ night experience or as they chant – their TGIF! Chanted at full volume we enter to find Claire already in situ. As each couple arrive, we meet in turn, Arron with his improbably named Italian girlfriend La Sagna, Sam and Roy, the unhappy couple and then Chris, Claire’s new boyfriend arrives from within. Chris and Claire have t shirts with their faces on them and can hardly keep their hands off each other. From there, the accusations fly.
The storyline has enough plausibility to keep you in the game but there are little things like, why is the Italian girlfriend given that name? It does not work as well in a theatre as it may have worked on a script – although the Garfield reference was good.
There is also the arrival of next door neighbour, Todd with his hand tattoos who seemed to be a slightly more scary person than the high school hockey player Roy who might at one point have been the intimidating one.
The narrative uncovering of who Chris might be, followed by the truth is not as well handled as it could have been though the physical alterations between them men onstage was exceptionally slick and well done – it shows an ability for physical technique that could have been more exploited.
Technically the set and the lighting, as well as the costumes were spot on and there was sufficient stage craft on show to say this had potential. The one issue in terms of proxemis, was the way in which the set pushed them to the edge of the stage constantly meaning that some crosses were as awkward as an audience member nipping to the loo half way through. This was a pity because this is clearly a group with plenty of chutzpah to give. They have energy and vitality aplenty which sees them take a layered situation and unpeel it carefully.
It’s a team of performers who clearly do know each other’s strengths and play to them. What works less well is the script, which could have done with having another redraft to match the performer’s skill and craft. Some of the direction it takes is a little far fetched but this is a group of actors who have the measure of the piece; filled with the improbable they could stretch to the fantastic.
Performances being of a decent standard, all round, called out for a challenge. It was when there were situations that stretched your belief that things became difficult. I just thought that we had actors who, with their equal on the page to truly give them the right platform, could make a very interesting hour of theatre; performers to really keep an eye on!