Brighton Fringe 2008
Erika Blaxland de Lange/ Saviana Stanescu
Venue: Komedia, Gardner St
Festival: Brighton Fringe
A thought provoking performance with some mesmerising moments that could be a five star play in the making.
In Brighton we’re used to our fair share of street characters: the shabby old man who carries his collection of bags from doorway to doorway, the raven who dresses all in black and spits abuse at other women, 57 varieties of Big Issue seller.
Romanian-American poet Saviana Stanescu has written a play that places us in a railway station waiting room with just such a character. Winnie, Nina, Marsha, her name keeps changing, is dressed in layers of clothes- is she pregnant? pretending to be pregnant? meant to be pregnant in the play? She wanders among the cabaret seated audience, shaking hands, sitting down with, questioning and revealing.
Erika Blaxland de Lange is a confident performer and handles this interaction very well. We are uncomfortable, slightly charmed, confused and not quite too sure when the play is going to start for real. The first part of the play is difficult. Realistic in the way it slowly reveals to us the inner workings and dislocations of, let’s call her Nina, it is still confusing and difficult to penetrate. I struggled for something to grap hold of and understand as Nina begins to share, her stories- folk stories from Romania, the story of the Infanta, the child princess doomed.
Nina strips down, layer by layer of clothing until she is in her party frock age 14 and we discover the not so hidden secret behind her dislocation from the world and her infatuation with the Infanta. The latter part of the play was much more engaging for me and Erika Blaxland de Lange lives up to the material with a fine performance. Some moments are mesmerising.
This is a thought provoking play that wants to say a lot about human nature and how we treat each other, how we react to the other. Is it trying to do too much? The crossing of the audience/ performer works but Nina was too wild eyed and starring for me in the early part of the play- there was a lack of definition to the different voices, and mixed up messages trying to get out.
Some feedback from the audience: "Brilliant, 5 stars, I loved the song", "Good but not really our cup of tea, 3 stars"
It was a shame there weren’t more people there and this play gets 3 stars from me because it deserves a bigger audience and because I suspect this is a five star play in the making. What would get it there would be some tightening up in the writing and some strong theatrical direction of Ms Blaxland de Lange’s performance.