Fringe Online 2020
Jess, an English teacher, arrives on an island where she has been building a home. She has come on a boat without the necessary permissions to contemplate her life and organize her ending. She is met by Pete, an awkward chiel who has the high vis vest, the flare and the attitude of an islander given the responsibility of repelling all at the borders – or in this case down the shore. Jess comes with the means to die in a carrier bag whilst Pete is armed only with his need to be part of something and a pebble painting business to repel the advances of someone who may actually be in a worse position than himself. Through their dialogue they find a common ground to talk is ended when he sends the signal that they both need help.
This has a gentile premise of two outsiders clashing in the shore of beauty whilst dealing with the ugliness of life. It leads to a lament of sorts over how human beings get lost in amongst the debris of lives that are not connecting either with themselves or with their community. Anita Vitesse handles much of the relationship with a finesse but there are shifts of focus that are quite difficult to follow – we go from needing a pee to having swallowed pills to talking about pebble painting, for example. Within a short timeframe of just over half an hour you can see why there is a need to cut to the chase. The problem is that the chase itself gets a little lost.
Ashley Smith and Simon Donaldson ably catch the essences of their two characters though Pete does at times seem to have the awkwardness that is both instantly recognizable and a tad over witnessed. Their interplay, however, is well-tuned and performed with the bumpiness of the script handled with aplomb.
Beth Morton’s direction keeps the performances on point and there is an assuredness, and a confidence in working in the medium – no small feat given that we are in the midst of a pandemic and new circumstances – which is very apt and impressive.
The production values manage to remind us that we are watching something designed for theatre and that allows the flow of ideas from each to happen within a context which is correct for the production. This is never less than theatrical in both its feel and purpose whilst it also leaves you with a yearning to see them live, you are not left disappointed by seeing them in this format