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Brighton Fringe 2012

What About Samuel?

Put It On Productions

Genre: Drama


 The Open House


Low Down

 A highly entertaining comedy drama, beautifully acted as it moves seamlessly from   laughter to drama  and resolution.


Clare and James are so busy they have to make appointments to meet on their only rest day, and Sam’s lateness is the beginning of a confrontation that ends in a battle of life-altering dimensions. This is the outline of a very funny and thoroughly engrossing comedy, with a few turns and surprises on the way.  We are drawn into their lives as the disclosures, the mistakes and secrets  and  the couple’s inability to move out of their own agendas to listen to one another, build into admittance  of all the differences between the somewhat ill matched pair as they embark on disclosures  and actions from which there is no going back.
The minutiae of the characters, with all their  the twists and turns make for a very funny play but some of the humour was lost as the confrontation became very loud, so the aggression felt as if it was assaulting the audience as well as the performers.  No doubt different aspects of the story will get different reactions on different nights as audiences  identify in different ways with  the couple.   On the first performance the arguments felt too loud and strong to allow the comedy of the situation to stand up – the Open House is a small venue, and the actors in this presentation are very close. It is anyway unlikely that  James – and particularly Clare, would  shout so much in the park with people around – perhaps some of this could be initially  toned down so the  rows  build more gradually.  That said, the actors were totally believable, always interesting – and the dialogue sharp and clear. Danny Charles had a Tigger-like energy and bounce, while Mary Rose gave a lovely subtle  performance, her expressive face illuminating every aspect of the character.
Without giving too much away, the passing of time was very cleverly portrayed, and the awkwardness of the final scene delicately portrayed.   Perhaps without the constraints of Fringe time limitations (many venues only allow plays to run for under an hour) that final scene could be slightly expanded to  allow for a slower development and exposition of what has happened in between – the one place where  the writing was a little heavy handed.  That said, we were held throughout, and moved to laughter and  pity.
All aspects of the production were satisfying, from the clever staging along the sides of the space, rather than distanced in front of us, so we could “be”  the other people in the park, and the sense of space beyond was very well conveyed.   I  thoroughly enjoyed the delightful, evocative scene cloth portraying  a  child’s view of the park, and understand it was expanded from the design  of very young Sophie Wylde, who may claim to being the youngest scene designer in this year’s – or  perhaps any other  – Festival.  The play was written by the actors, and ably directed by Mary Swan, and  is a play well worth  visiting the Open House pub to see.   I thoroughly recommend it.


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