Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Redemption on a Welsh mountain. Unexpected success as a photographer takes road worker, Iain Parry (Zav) away from North Wales to London and beyond. But for all he’s gained, what has he lost? A solo show written and performed by PJ Vickers.
In Zav, we are in safe hands with our solo host and storyteller, P.J Vickers. A bare stage with a single chair is all he needs to immerse us quickly in the intriguing tale of a local boy who made good as a photographer, initially bemused by his own success and then really adapting to the joys of fame and fortune (the kerching sound of cash tills is a regular motif in this journey towards riches and self-discovery).
The old lesson that “money isn’t everything” would not be enough to sustain this near-hour long solo show. What really matters in Life is part of the inquiry, alongside themes of love, loss, rejection, acceptance and the essence of our own unique mojos.
This is a brilliantly written script, always engaging, playing the audience with bitter-sweet notes and watching the rise, fall and rise again of a man who could be any one of us and is probably a bit of all of us.
There are some satisfying conclusions at the end which I will not reveal. PJ Vickers is an able performer, with a cheeky side-grin, addresses us individually and sometimes it feels as if the fourth wall is down but mostly we are the silent witnesses to the tragi-comic and often painfully funny unfolding of the life of a human being who knows how to capture a snap.
Told in vignettes the story reaches its conclusion as we cross continents but never truly lose the heart of the story in Wales, with its earthy problems and its beautiful mountains calling us home.
Some of the monologue was a little quiet to hear and needs to climb a notch so we can catch every syllable of what is an eloquent, deep script. The arc of the story is well designed and the emotional range of the piece never slips into caricature. Vickers plays each character with minimal fuss, isn’t afraid to belt out some anger but the whole piece is modulated in a way that lets the sharp, clever and sensitive writing shine through.
The narrative is clever in its unfussiness. It’s a fairly linear tale that draws you in and keeps you curious. It is sometimes light and funny, other times moving and affecting. I recognised Zav as a believable character, one we can all learn a few life lessons from. We are all flawed in our search for clarity and authenticity. We need to feel satisfied in our success, even at the risk of losing it
I enjoyed and valued every minute of Zav, a hidden gem on the Fringe.