Edinburgh Fringe 2011
C Soco stages Hands in The Air Productions’ revival of its debut production, John Kolvenbach’s funny, original and beautifully gentle tale of true love and hope.
This captivating comedy tells the story of Beane, an introverted recluse, whose whole life changes when he falls in love with Molly, the young woman who burgles his home and sells all his possessions for £6. Beane doesn’t need much to survive, see. He gets by with a cup, a spoon, a tube of toothpaste and a few pairs of socks. “I think objects are deceptive,” he explains. “I don’t want a fork if it’s going to lie to me.”
It’s a delightful play about the overwhelming, transformative, stupidly wonderful power of love, in an accomplished production by director Siobhan Cannon-Brownlie. Difficult to fault in any respect, it’s certainly helped by a fantastic cast, with each individual performance confident, creative and assured. Will Moore is utterly winsome as Beane, his physicality fantastically expressive of a young man not quite in touch with reality. Stiff, confused and sometimes comically terrified, he makes this innocent and rather endearingly autistic character immensely likable.
Randy Jane is equally beguiling as the straight-talking love interest and violent criminal, Molly, and both Charlotte Baker as Beane’s harried, screeching sister, Joan, and Harshad Sambamurthy as her short-tempered husband, Harry, are great fun, their frustration with Beane and with each other a source of much of the comedy of the play, and whose own love story is more than a little charming too.
Though a warm, quietly joyful piece, cupping your heart in both hands and cradling it, it’s not lacking in energy and exuberance, and is perfectly pitched and well-paced by Cannon-Brownlie – her direction simple, natural, and in some moments, enchantingly playful. Free from worn-out sentiment, this unconventional love-story is sweet and uplifting without being cloying. Honest yet, in places, quite surreal, it’s a gorgeously tender evocation of the spirit of young love.
I wasn’t the only one touched by this enchanting play, judging by the sniffs around me. You’ll go into this show a cynic and come out with your teenage idealism of love restored. If you’re in a relationship, you’ll leave re-enamoured with your partner, as attested by the elderly couple in my row who kept smiling and squeezing each other’s knees and, if single, you’ll surely leave yearning to fall head over heels. Very good for the soul.