At the start of On the Rocks 2016 it was a pleasure to attend a showcase of original writing and fresh talent. Unfortunately, this original play, C. N. A. Guran’s On the Edge of Falling, does not unravel any new themes, nor is there any fresh feeling of intuition towards the theme of marriage. Brevity was a serious issue. Despite the play only running for forty minutes there were almost a dozen changes of stage setup, which primarily disrupted any natural flow or sense of continuity. Production length is not in itself the decisive factor. In this case however, it is clear that neither the characters nor any central idea had sufficient time to develop into something that may have resonated with the audience.
Much of the writing grossly spits out an understanding of popular culture that was heard from the end of some insufferable chain in Chinese whispers. Lacking clear identity in this respect, it did not allow the characters to stand with a clear sense of self. It was not exactly clear what state Karen (Pim Ungphakorn) and Tom’s (Clement Yeung) relationship is in when the play begins but the audience has only one short scene before the couple is crumbling. Without this prior context, or any subsequent physical stage activity, there is a huge reliance on dialogue, which was awkward and stiff. There was also an underwhelming lack of onstage charisma, where poor chemistry climaxed in an agonising kiss between Karen and Richard (Victor Pilard) – her newfound love interest. With a meagre one stage alteration proceeding this event the pivotal confrontation between Karen and Tom concludes the play with the prospect of sleeping on the couch, coupled with a prospect of reconciliation made through innuendo.
Individually the actors showed some promise, but they lacked awareness of one another and the dramatic space, often coming to a stubborn halt when they were not delivering lines.
Of course marriage as a thematic focus is not the wildest conception for a student play, after all in some form or another every person has a home life, or some relationship with their parents. Undressing a seemingly happy couple through loose monologues did leave a sour taste of inexperience in the mouth though. This review is not intended to discourage the cast or crew. It seemed that there was no true vision for this production, which bodes ill before the auditions even begin.
Image featured courtesy of On the Rocks