Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Teenagers one night gather to reminisce about the friend who committed suicide. One of their number, Digger, is not there whilst Frankie a Trans young man, is struggling to find himself. Digger’s girlfriend is unsure if she wants to stay in Bristol and wants something better whilst he wants to stay in their small village near Bristol and be the farmer lad he has become. What sits above them all is the figure of their lost friend – Noah.
There are two principal issues with this. Firstly, the script needs a couple of redrafts. It has a few moments which are really worthwhile – the time when Frankie gets into conflict with their inner and outer badger, for example – but overall, it can feel a little clichéd and stilted. There are times when things flow better – like when there are some revelations – and there can be genuine emotion which is clearly heartfelt, but it can feel a little worthy.
The second problem is partly out of the company’s control: sight lines.
As the stage is on the floor, if you are in the third row, you cannot see anything below the waist. Given that this was performed to a packed crowd – some of whom had been liberally topping themselves up at the bar before hand – as time goes on late night crowds can be quite restless, and being unable to see becomes an issue. Of course, dropping in on a venue for the fringe with limited rehearsal time there can lead to many a compromise, however, now you know…
Given some of the gaps in the script, performances needed to up their game and there are a few really good actors here – there was plenty of sterling effort and Frankie in particular – of what I saw – was really good. What I did like about the script was the fact that it did not shy away from presenting a character who struggles with gender identity. This worked really well to explore the issue rather than depend upon cliché. By refusing to be part of the “gang”, whilst claiming that gay people were “them” was not the boldest thing to do, but to leave things hanging at the end was. Giving us the conundrum was a brave ending as we all look for the young people to show us the way. It was therefore really nice to see them acknowledge the issues as complex and then give us the chance of making our own minds up – almost as if there is a generational message in there!
Overall, this was a late night show with a lot of promise and good material upon which to build, and with proper foundations there is a decent performance and storyline ready to emerge.