Edinburgh Fringe 2012
"Eddie is a bad lad. He wants to be good. Can he change his destiny and find true love? " Disturbing, tragic, and emotonally powerful new work from Philip Stokes and Horizon Arts.
A new play from the prolific hand of Philip Stokes provides an opportunity for Horizon Arts to create their signature raw, emotional but always finely acted and crafted theatrical punch.
Stokes always explores the darker side of 21st Century culture through the lives of people on the ground of real life. As ever, Stokes provokes. Can a moment of madness really destroy a young life irrevocably ? Questions sit at the heart ofhis writing. Questions thatneed answering. Questions though, that we may never answer.
The recorded backdrop at the start felt a bit too sterile in delivery of its naturalistic content but this outstanding piece of work soon took off. Stoke’s dialogue never lets up, and there’s as much in the facial interactions, the sideways glances, the constant reactions and interplay of the characters – so full of finely spun detail – the use of proximity and placement of cast, the use of stage tableau, as there in the spoken words.
Eddie, a born again hooligan who wants peace. Shauna has risen from poverty to penthouse. There’s a lot of very sharp, well written and realised dialogue in this play and it’s all cleverly though not over-constructed.
Stoke’s choice of material could be seen by some as gratuitous but in my view that is exactly what makes much of his writing outstanding. Stoke jumps honestly into the world of 21st Century human pain where we suffer as both victims and originators of circumstance and it is never clear where the causal relationships exactly lie. Some are born bad, some achieve badness, and some have badness thrust upon them.
The style is often comprised of naturalistic language mixed with often highly dramatic acting, bordering on caricature. Yet this all feels intentional, both in the writing and the directing. Sometimes at the extremes of life, we do become caricatures of ourselves, in a place where our pain and confusion can create grotesque versions of who we really are.
Eddie is a liar, a manipulator. The women crumble easily before Eddie’s will. Those moments are hard to watch, theatrically for all the right reasons
Plot twists and surprises, just enough comedy to give the intensity believability, as usual the deceptively light dialogue carries a deeper and darker narrative effectively and powerfully.
The ghosts of guilt. Karma is brought to life with Stoke’s usual directness. There’s a broken love story here wrapped inside an exploration of action and consequence, impulse and regret, fatalism and hope.
The narrative style is one of unravelling story. Things are revealed and the picture emerges – the events that connect the lives of these people; actions, decisions, mistakes and regrets. Can we ever step free of the past if we’ve never truly acknowledged it ? And are some decisions always with us, ready to haunt us, to remind us, to seek their own repetition further down the line of our biographical journey ? Paralysed by the past in the present, we walk sluggishly at best through life, feeling not a wind of change at our backs but instead a force coming towards us from the future, pushing us ever back. And even if the mistakes we make were as children, the resonances can be profound and unforgiving right through our lives.
There’s a slight imbalance in acting styles of the cast at the start. Billy "big balls" is a little too caricatured at the start and needs to tone down a bit. He’s a bit too comic book. However, at the end, his acting is top drawer and hugely affecting.
This is another stellar piece of hyper-high octane writing from Stokes done full justice by the Horizon Arts. There’s some terrific tension in the later stages.
Truly, crazily, deeply this blackly comic, often uncomfortable ghost story leaves questions, not answers. Not easy questions at that.
The devil is the fear you hold within. This play takes us into the realm of purgatory. The destructive power of a kiss. The burning, purging fire of truth and revelation. A play that burns…A Blithe Spirit for a new generation.