Fringe Online 2020
A writer struggling to create finds the body of a woman on the beach. He lifts her and takes her home. Lying her out on the kitchen table she takes life, and his creativity returns to wonder what she might have once been and why she may have found herself dead upon arrival at the shore. It’s a mixture of monologue and dialogue across that kitchen table which turns to earthly matters by using out of the world experiences.
As ways of dealing with writer’s block, this must rank up there with one of the most dramatic. Starting as it does with monologues, we are introduced to the two characters without filter. When they start to talk across to each other the exploration of their psyche and humanity is deepened. Once the artifice of talking directly to us is removed the warmth and the energy of both characters start to emerge. She has found herself travelling to the island with the main purpose of leaving her mortal self. Or so we are told for the narrative is driven by the imagination of our writer whilst the background is imagined. It works beautifully.
The script has managed to retain the intimacy whilst allowing the performances to flow easily between them. Directed with assured conviction, Beth Morton has taken Oliver Emanuel’s script to a new level. Performers Ashley Smith and Simon Donaldson capture each nuance with skill and their interaction is of a standard that keeps you enthralled by their interplay. It is a practised and beautifully noted combination performance as we get the tenderness, the frustration and the connections played out with such finesse and skill.
What makes this even more astonishing as a piece is the theatricality of it. This is a theatre with a table and a few chairs. The set sits on the sand of a beach and is lit with flair. Between that and the soundscape we are never far away from believing that this was for theatrical and not cinematic release. Of course, the camera directs our point of view but because of the set and the technical ability on show it has a theatre stamped throughout it – if you were to cut it in half, it would bleed gaffa tape.
I loved it and loved the performances of equal measure ably given to us. I am a little put out by the dominant male hero trope but nonetheless the story of either manages to keep the story of both centre stage.