Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Misha is a beautiful maiden, confined in her up-side-down triangle of a house, unsullied by the outside world and hopelessly optimistic. On her first venture out into the big bad world she instantaneously falls in love and thus begins the tragic story of her ill-fated romances and her slowly sinking house and heart.
The Perils of Love and Gravity, written and directed by Michael Keane, offers us a fairy-tale style narrative of the heroine’s plight. The engineer (Rhys Lawton) whisks us through scene by scene aided by Graeme (Phil Mann) who gives a (literally) breathtaking, hyper-energetic performance as the try-hard, eccentric and devoted butler. Charlie Bate as Misha is endearing; she convincingly conveys to us the character’s change from naïve romantic to world-weary philosopher who, eventually, settles for any love who comes her way. Bate’s performance is executed with professional aplomb and is hard to fault.
This is not true for the rest of the performance which is at best comically haphazard, at worst uncomfortably chaotic. The premise for the piece is a highly self-aware, self-referential theatre (which “is better than film” don’t you know?) that offers the audience a pre-Stanislavskian venture into three-walled story-telling. However, although all the prop-throwing, the chatting with the lighting crew and the general showmanship is a part of the spirit of the play, it was also used, at times, as an excuse for sloppy staging and forgetting lines. Lawton’s performance needs polishing and Mann, though very funny, could be slicker and more professional whilst conserving the foolishness and accident-prone nature of his character.
The Perils of Love and Gravity is a clever play and Keane is clearly a talented writer. It would be entertaining for a diverse range of people, particularly teens (there is plenty of swearing so beware). The set works well and the actors are well cast. I would be very interested to see how this show develops over the course of it’s run and am inclined to recommend it to later festival-goers when I suspect it will be slicker. This is an entertaining piece of theatre which is also highly original at points and, at £8, it is well worth it.