Hollywood Fringe 2019
Tight ensemble in a play about a family that falls apart.
“Sins” starts out as a perfectly plausible play, then it takes a turn. What follows is interesting and funny and unsettling. Ostensibly a rite-of-passage family drama with added domestic violence, it ends up exploring the even darker territory of artistic endeavor in general and small theatre in particular.. Writer director William Thompson has assembled a very good cast around him to pull off the meta theatrical show. Thompson himself is engaging and naively earnest as the central character, Eustace.
I don’t want to stray into spoiler territory so I can’t speak too much about the nature of the diversion, but it is extremely well executed. The actors tread a fine line between truth and parody. It’s a trick we have seen before but rarely with this attention to detail. It runs out of steam a little in fourth quarter but is saved by a strong ending and totally committed performances.
There is fine physical work by all, particularly the young actress who has a lovely set-piece two-thirds of the way through. What could be just a good sketch idea is developed and explored and taken to its limit so it very nearly holds us rapt for an hour. Every twist and development reveals another layer of character and another challenge for the performers, who are all striking exactly the right tone, no one is going for easy laughs but rather allowing the discomfort and tension to build so the audience’s nervous laughter comes in random bursts.
The weekday afternoon performance I attended was not very well-attended and it must be difficult to promote a show like this when its biggest selling point is the element of surprise. This is a shame as very good work is being done here.
I had heard mixed opinions about the piece and it will not be to everyone’s taste, but it is well worth catching if your fringe-fare is seeming a bit samey.
The production values seem unimpressive at first sight but end up being perfect.