Sunday, August 12, 2007

"45 Minutes" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

"45 Minutes" was an interesting conceit - based around the claims of Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction being launched, and how a family (and their neighbour) would spend the time in those 45 minutes. A compacted "On The Beach". Unfortunately the reality failed to live up to either our expectations, or the reviews of others on the edfringe.com website.

The tale centered round the familial interactions between a widowed former politician, John (probably an MP, or possibly even Prime Minister - it's unclear which), and his 2 sons. Michael, the eldest is in his late teens and having a typical teenage relationship with his emotionally distant father; whilst William is about 9 and has withdrawn after the death of his mother. Rounding up the family is Uncle Bob, John's brother, who is a contrast to his over-achieving sibling. The final cast member is the intruding next door neighbour, Tom Henry, who is spending the countdown to oblivion with them rather than being alone.

Let's start on a positive note. The idea as I've said is a good one, how would you react if you were given such a tight countdown to devastation. Would you panic buy in Tesco 'just in case' the worse didn't happen. Would you re-enact the old 'Protect and Survive' public information film. Or would you lie down and accept the inevitable. Unfortunately this family did none of these, they played Scrabble.

This was originally an improvised piece, which was transcribed for future performances. And this is perhaps the source of its problems. For something like this to work it need to be tightly written and paced. This was neither. Little adjustment to its staging seemed to have been made to take into account the compactness of the venue (a conference suite in Jurys Inn). If it's difficult to more around the set without falling over each other, then adjust the stage direction!

You felt no empathy for the characters, with the Tom Henry being a particular irritant. I assume he's meant to be there for initial comic relief, which is meant to grow into sympathy for a man who doesn't want to leave his empty life alone. However he's so unevenly drawn that this just doesn't happen.

There is a nice touch at the end, with the direction of the final scene. But we were left with the feeling of an opportunity missed.

45 Minutes has now finished its run at Jurys Inn, but will be at Venue 45. from 13-18 July.

NB - please see comments below for a correction with regards the character names.

3 Heckles

Samuel Dawson said...

As an audience member at the second performance of '45 Minutes', I would like to take this opportunity to mention the number of people who were clearly moved emotionally, some to tears, by the intensity and truthfulness of the production. I would say their reactions are far more valid than those of a faceless internet 'reviewer', who was clearly not paying enough attention to note the correct names of the characters, and doesn't know where to put his apostrophes...

Waldorf said...

Point made about the apostrophes. And considering I'm the one usually shouting at Statler for his inability to use them correctly, I'm suitably chastised and hanging my head in shame. I have since corrected them (I hope!). Oh and in the interests of accuracy it's a 'her' that got them wrong.

We don't sit and take notes during performances - as we do attempt to give things our full attention. Unfortunately I did make an error in this case confusing the names of 2 of the characters. John being the father and Tom Henry being the neighbour, I believe. I have corrected the review and I thank you for bring this oversight to my attention.

I do however stand by the post as an accurate reflection of what I saw and thought on the day. I'm glad you had a different experience as ultimately the aim of theatre is to entertain.

We don't go to the theatre to review, we go to the theatre to enjoy. The reviews and thoughts we post here are simply a by-product.

Statler said...

Ha! That’ll teach you for giving me abuse about my spelling/grammar/typing!

PS – Waldorf wrote this review because she was much more positive about the show than I was.