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FringeReview Scotland 2014

Fragile State of Mind

Collision, Buckhaven, Fife

Genre: Drama



Low Down

A devised youth theatre performance that looks at the world through the eyes of their insecurities. This is a world full of danger but one of our characters at least is going to take it head on whilst the others prove too fragile but are insightful and hilarious in their own journeys. 


We have seven performers who are in their late teens/early twenties. Each begin by introducing themselves in the third person before we see the physical metaphor of a suitcase being hunted and then thrown between them. We then follow the fragmented stories of each character as each character tries to explain away their own insecurities. The show concludes with one of the seven having the suitcase, boldly and confidently ready to take their next step forward.

Firstly we have to acknowledge that this group stood for a good half hour or so as we were seated and then given the self congratulatory TFTV episode for the night. This is a video side show for the Tin Forest Festival which sees a film crew following folk around. This is edited as a nightly update for the delight (there is much) and delectation (missed that) of those who are part of the Festival. It unfortunately allows some to sit and chat, whoop and “make some noise” when they or their pals are seen on screen. Unfortunately the chatter continued beyond the video as the group sat next to me thought nothing of talking right through this performance. I am sure that the performers were both unaware and unaffected by this chatting but the next time I need to be put off a show I know who to book.

It didn’t mar a very crisply written show. I have seen a lot of youth theatre in Scotland that has made me want to cringe and be swallowed up but this was standing on secure written foundations. The two standout bits were the awkward silence scenes, followed by the when I was six monologue and the argument between the two actors that may have sprung from a rehearsal. But good words need good performers and this was as crisp and as well rehearsed as anything I have seen.

In particular I loved the love triangle as well as the young girl who decided to leave.  Both were exceptionally well judged and I felt they rounded off the narrative by being less about the words and more about the actions.  

The balloons and the suitcase were the set and props. The metaphor of the suitcase and the balloons that seemed to be functionally confusing before they were – mostly – popped made sense and worked very well.

This was a tremendous piece of theatre and one I really enjoyed. It was tight, ambitious enough and perfectly performed. It showed that the words of a generation should be spoken by that generation rather than trying to shoehorn the words of someone else into their mouths – until they at least are ready to open their gobs and listen…

It left me captivated and enthralled. One of the things that struck me was the trepidation with which I entered the theatre – because it was a Scottish group. You always worry that they will trip themselves up. It reminded me of the wit interviewed after the opening Commonwealth Games ceremony who said, “It was no bad. At least we didn’t embarrass wursels.” I managed to discard my Scottish ness and admit that this managed to showcase what we have in Scotland and went well beyond the “we didn’t embarrass wursels” factor. 


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