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Brighton Fringe 2013

Like They Are

Bath Street Productions

Genre: Drama

Venue: Upstairs @ Three & Ten


Low Down

 Faye Woodbridge’s triptych of scenarios where one of the protagonists is always dead, a ghost, explores very different aspects of the same conceit. 


What happens when someone dies but doesn’t leave? The play has three very different scenarios in three acts, The third act is the most successful, a poignant tale of one girl and her lover. It is the lover ghost  who decides to leave her insubstantial existence, where she cannot touch or taste, in order to let her partner move on.  The first act has a twenty five year old on the run from his family to get some space for himself, but pursued, no, one has to say haunted, by the ghost of his dead father.  The dialogue they have is less dramatic, and could easily be read as an internalised conversation that the son is having with his image of his father. In that sense it doesn’t quite work as we’re left slightly in a limbo, wondering what it is that the father really has to say, apart from the “Don’t do that, son” type conversations.  There isn‘t a lot of tension generated by their exchanges – it’s as if the script isn’t quite sure whether to play this seriously or for laughs.   There are some great opening exchanges where the ghost father has to ask his son to turn the pages, complains about his irritating ring tones, but then it seems to degenerate into a standard father and son don’t understand one another dialogue that doesn’t really use the full potential of the dead verses the living subject matter.  Or explore what happens when you can’t leave a parent behind and live your own life.  And there are these nagging questions in the audience mind – why doesn’t the son ask the father to leave him alone?

The second act gets into its stride as a dark farce, one dead friend, another death and another ghost and lots of confusion over who is talking to whom, which works quite nicely, but never quite takes off into full blown comedy. Sharp acting and crisp responses from the actors keep the scenario alive.
So the third and closing act is the place where you begin to sense more depth and a more finely nuanced interplay between what it means not to lose a life partner in one sense, but nonetheless this partner is dead, insubstantial, the lovers can no longer touch or kiss. Now the real issues of what should be left behind, what is it that the grieving partner needs to do to – horrible expression in this context – “move on”.  This is a real life dilemma at the heart of all bereavement, the tension between ever present loss and the need to live on in your life anyway, and it is sensitively portrayed – both the actors give a very moving understated performance.
The cast of the play are without exception convincing and engaging in their portrayals, but overall  you come away from the play as a whole hankering either for some more uproarious comedy in the second act, or for some more profound exploration of the relationship between dead father and son – although it was referred to by the son, there wasn’t any particular digging into the depths of a father who is frozen in time as a twenty-four year old, while his son is now twenty five, and who could have, perhaps, touched on the feelings of his own mortality.
Overall it’s an interesting play that feels it could be developed a lot further.