Brighton Fringe 2012
Funny, enjoyable comedy as two actors, one serious and aspiring, one not so serious but just as aspiring try to produce Chekov’s Seagull with a cast of two.
Liberty Martin and Cheryl Mayer’s two-hander feels like it is rooted in the experience of devising and managing small scale theatre. Perhaps even more importantly it’s rooted in the problems in holding onto your cast. Left with just one actress besides herself, and a very dilapidated scout hall already booked for the duration of rehearsals, director Liberty decides to go ahead and adapt the play for two. There are flaws in this approach as she finds out. After a series of well observed and very funny phone calls to publishers she discovers that you can perform translations of Chekov for free, but only if you use less than 15% of the text. And there are other problems too – Cheryl may be inexperienced, she may be callow, but she doesn’t want to be dumped with the stage management and the lesser parts.
After Cheryls reads the play, she has her heart set on being Nina. The play works well in showing the moving balance of power between the two compatriots. There is a nice balance too between the observational comedy of experience as Liberty practices all her excruciating drama school warm ups and the more slapstick physical comedy of Cheryl’s attempts to follow, with a more literal, roll on the floor interpretation of the command to gradually roll the spine.
The play is really at its best in the interaction between the main characters. The early scene where both actresses play the series of actors / actresses who have abandoned the show is funny in parts, but just lacks a little finesse and bite, some of the caricatures here are not so satisfying.
When interaction between Cheryl and Liberty starts the play really gets into its stride. If you’ve ever had a problem with securing the legs of a flip chart you will treasure this show. Even if you’ve never experienced this particular difficulty you will still laugh watching Liberty struggle with it. There’s a nice callback to this scene later, a pivotal point where the “unskilled” Cheryl is able to put up the flipchart and also to unravel the Seagull into more manageable proportions.
This is an enjoyable show – good humoured, with the ability to portray flawed characters sympathetically –the stressed out, potential diva Liberty is not overplayed, and the warm, inexperienced Cheryl is a nice mix of incompetence and ability. The writing is well paced and the laughs well delivered.