Kyra Ho reviews Eventide, a new student-written production, at this year’s Fringe Festival.
Eventide was a pretty fifty minutes of theatre that hadn’t quite figured itself out yet.
A new piece by Sasha Mann, to be found in the children’s category of Fringe shows, it followed Eliza Drake’s struggle to come to terms with the growing distance between her and her sister, unpicked through her conversations with fairy visitors. It touched very lightly on the shifting ways we look at life when we are young, so lightly, in fact, as to be ultimately unaffecting. At times it seemed unsure of itself as a show and what it was trying to do.
There was a disparity between the script and the execution, which would leave neither adult nor child fully satisfied. The former was apparently unaware of how to hold a child’s attention, in that it featured lengthy monologues of fable-like stories whilst nothing else happened on stage. A lot of the acting, however, was reminiscent of children’s entertainers, to the point where Isabella Zeff‘s portrayal of Eliza was that of a caricatured child.
That said, there was a genuine sweetness to the play. In terms of pure aesthetics, it was lovely to look at. The careful positioning of actors in the dimness meant there were moments of almost freeze-frame where I felt as if I were looking at old photographs, which fit well with the theme of holding onto childhood memories. The twinkly shelves laden with childhood remnants and fairy tale paraphernalia and the subtle sounds of the outside world separated by a constant buzz did well to establish a vaguely magical atmosphere, making the bedroom setting seem otherworldly. Rosie Beech’s vocal acting was strong and soothing, and well suited to her role as the eponymous fairy.
The same cannot be said for the rest of the cast, who had some trouble with pacing and delivery; there was little variation in big blocks of speech and lines of emotional importance were not given time to breathe. There was also little chemistry between Eliza and her fairy friends, something that should have driven the emotional and nostalgic feel of the play. This seemed mostly due to actors not listening to each other, and to inexcusable moments of inconsistency, such as Harry Johnson’s Decaye only remembering their illness and to cough when it was their line.
Lighting choices were a little on-the-nose, and a bit too harsh, made worse by the fact that there was so much lighting used, and rarely interestingly. In a fantasy-based play one does not want to be conscious of tech, as it takes us out of the story, but I was very aware of light changes which distracted from the experience of the show.
The cast were clearly well-rehearsed and had been meticulously blocked by director Minoli de Silva, who had obviously been full of ideas. Unfortunately, it seemed these ideas mostly fell flat. The main issue was that the play didn’t seem to be saying much, and the little that it did wasn’t said in a particularly entertaining way.