Sunday, August 05, 2007

"Pit" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Being seasoned Fringe-goers we had planned our schedule well, and after "Venus as a Boy" we were remaining in the Traverse for the Arches Theatre Company production of Megan Barker's "Pit", and had left just enough time between shows to grab some lunch in the theatre cafe/bar (Nachos with chilli are excellent). Given the food related themes of "Pit" it was just as well we ate beforehand.

The structure of the show is a strange one and takes a little getting used to, but does in fact work fairly well. "Myrtle" is played, at times simultaneously, by three actors - Yvonne Caddell, Ray Farr and Patricia Kavanagh as we see her/them prepare a meal under the assumed supervision of social services. These cooking scenes are intermixed with flashback style scenes of the events leading up to Myrtle's current situation as she struggles with family life in trailer-trash America. During these flashbacks the actors take it in turns to play other family members, although the fact that different "Myrtles" play the same family members at different times seemed to add unnecessary confusion to an already difficult conceit to follow.

Performances were all good with each proving capable of effectively portraying their multiple roles and delivering what is quite a physical performance. However, in many ways the 'triple casting' of Myrtle seems unnecessary and adds little to the piece that couldn't be achieved with a single Myrtle playing against one or two others in the supporting roles. It isn't confusing and does add one or two nice touches but the pay-off seems a poor reward for the effort involved.

For the most part the plot is well paced, but the use of "Baby Whistler's Song" (of which the production flyer makes a great deal) seems immensely out of place and takes away much of the momentum the show had been building. Many of the issues raised here are good ones and in general it avoids coming across like a Michael Moore documentary.

The 'reveal' comes suddenly and while it being unexpected would normally be a plus point, I'm afraid I do like my twists/shocks to be at least hinted at earlier in the piece rather than seemingly dropped in as happens here.

"Pit" is typical Fringe fayre and worth seeing if it fits in with your plans, but I'm not sure I'd plan a schedule around it.

Traverse Theatre
2 August - 26 August 2007