Edinburgh Fringe 2022
We begin with a typical American classroom in a High School where lessons are due to begin. Through a series of interactions between classmates, and with the teacher we are introduced to the politics of High School life. The lesson for the day is around a number of presentations from a number of standard characters, in this history class about history repeating itself. Then one of their number, having been humiliated returns with murderous intent. The irony is not lost on us, or the characters as those in the class use monologue to tell us about their emotions of that day as they factually inform us of the event, their response and their fate.
Performing a show based upon school shooting in a country where we have effectively dealt with the issue decades ago could be seen to be bold, as indeed performing in accents not your own. This highly impressive piece has authenticity at its heart, however, as these young students provide us with a prescient drama which does, in a very early morning slot, provides plenty of food for thought.
Their script does have some issues over tending towards the clichéd, but to be fair, the event itself has enough of a drama about it that it matters little. The direction manages to show us what happens with effectiveness. Again, the drama provides us with our principal focus, though there are some clever touches attempted. This includes the slow motion of the cast during the monologues, but to be fully effective they need more rehearsal, also the backward movement was really neat, whilst the gun being mimed actually worked well. It underlined aspects of the message, making it appear like a kid’s game of make believe as an event you could not totally believe was happening.
What won me over were the young people.
I was around in Youth Work at the time of Dunblane and listened to many young people expressing their views on what happened at that atrocity. They were strident, poignant, and clear – we should not let them face anything similar again. They of course, had views as to how this would be achieved but their certainty was highly impressive. In some ways I was thrust back there with the opinions of this fresh looking young group. I did not get the quick fix or even a possible solution this time, instead they turned away from simple slogans and solutions to simply present how one young man could turn from being the oddball in the class who people treated mean to someone who could flip and believe that the only solution was death – for those he sought for help and himself.
The monologues were well delivered, though some of the silent acting was a little over the top and some of the characterisation a little too boldly drawn, lacking a touch of subtlety, but again it was earnest and given with spirit. Their accents did not waiver and they produced the authentic in an accent not of their own – highly impressive stuff.
Theatre arts were well used, and the use of lighting was very effective.
Performing at 9am in the Fringe is a thankless task. On that day, it was pouring with rain and the queue outside was forming for their next show in slightly greater numbers – I wish they had seen what I had just seen. It was a show that stayed with me for the day as I thought long and hard about what they had told me.