The first performance in the Barron Theatre this year marked the beginning of a very promising Mermaids season. Clearly well-rehearsed, the excellent execution of these two free-standing acts by American playwright David Ives heralds a rich semester of theatre at St Andrews. Written between 1987 and 1993, the satisfyingly simple and short plays investigated the themes of reality and chance whilst drawing many laughs from the audience.
The first one-act, ‘The Philadelphia’, dealt with metaphysical reality. A distressed man meets a woman in a restaurant and complains that nothing is going his way. She explains to him that he is in a so-called “Philadelphia”, a dimension of reality in which he gets exactly the opposite of what he asks for; she then proceeds to teach him how to successfully order a meal while trapped in a “Philadelphia”. After mastering this, they discover that the woman’s gleeful “Los Angeles” zone has been replaced by her own “Philadelphia”, while the waitress has been stuck in a “Cleveland” all week.
‘Sure Thing’, the second fast-paced play, allows two actors to display a vast amount of versatility, which the actors in this performance did impressively. It illustrated the accidental nature of love by fragmenting the chance encounter of a man and a woman. Each ring of an off-stage bell indicates a variation of the dialogue, building the awkward conversation – as well as the characters’ personality and chemistry – until they finally fall in love.
The plain set – a table and two chairs – utilized for both back-to-back performances enhanced the scripts’ focus on language by forcing the comedic dialogue to the centre of the performance and serving as a reminder that a wonderful production does not require much more than an intelligent script and competent actors. It was encouraging to see so many freshers in the audience; hopefully this performance inspired potential new directors, actors and producers to immerse themselves in the rich theatre life that St Andrews has to offer.
Photo Credit: Hannah Risser