Brighton Fringe 2008
Venue: Upstairs at Three and Ten, St James Street. Brighton
Festival: Brighton Fringe
Red, by Chris Fittock ,is a really interesting piece of writing. Beautiful and shocking, it deals with the actions and consequences of war with a gutteral poetry and a dislocated sense of time and space that leaves a lot to the imagination. I’ve not heard dialogue like it since Berkoff and I can appreciate why anyone would want to stage this reworking of the Oedipus myth. It must be a delight to say those words.
This was the first time I had been to the theatre upstairs at the Three and Ten and I was impressed yet again by how good the standard of fringe theatres has become. The space is small and intimate and everything runs smoothly. This is a smart, professional operation. The inhouse company Otherplace productions have carried this high standard onto the stage.
Despite this being the first night the whole performance seemed technically flawless like it had been run in over a couple of weeks. The action takes place in a brick walled room with a sand floor- we get a real set, not some last minute cardboard effort and the whole show has a quality to it that suggests the hand of a director who knows what he is doing.
So why, for the first half of this show did I feel as tortured as the pineapple Red scratches at with a knife while he tells us his tales of murder love and hate, war and rape?
Jeremy Pike made the ill-advised choice of directing and starring in this play. The great thing about other people is that they bring perspective and depth, they draw out of you the things that you can’t see for yourself. This play could certainly have benefitted from an outside eye. The words were all there in the right order, the actions all happened, but I just didn’t believe in the central performance and it’s a long time to watch someone going through the motions without going through the emotions.
It’s a relief when Kat Marchant as Val appears on stage. We have heard her talking off stage, Red’s nagging, bragging nemesis, but it’s on stage she comes alive. She delivers a real emotional punch in a performance that could do with some directorial finesse but has a genuine vitality that I hope we’ll be seeing much more of.
Laura Corbett is Amy, Red’s other lover and his chance of escape from this mad little trap. She shows us how these words should be spoken, bringing the poetry and rhythm of the text to life with a lightness of touch and an amazing naturalness that shows she really gets what she’s saying.
The three stars awarded to this show is in the hope that it will develop. While my dislike for the central performance initially made me err towards giving this a lower rating, my companions for the evening genuinely enjoyed the play, despite it’s gruesome nature, and there were a number of strong elements to this production. I wait to see whether Jeremy Pike can deliver a performance that lives up to his skill as a director.