Friday, August 01, 2008

"Answers" - Edinburgh Fringe 2008

Newcastle University Theatre Society's "Answers" by Edward Clifton is the first of several political based shows we're seeing at this year's Fringe and it deals with the events the evening before a controversial Westminster vote on a matter with civil liberties implications. The government has got itself in a bit of a tight spot and is struggling to get their bill passed - but what lengths will they go to?

The show opens with a stylish set piece interview between a rebel MP and an off stage Newsnight presenter type. It's handled very effectively and quickly raised my expectations for the production, but it's a moment of inspiration that the script rarely reaches again. The plot is nicely set up but there are a number of question marks over decisions characters make as events unfold - I was often left with the feeling that the actions taken bore little relation to how the characters would likely behave in the situations confronting them.

What also doesn't help is the chatter amongst the junior staff members to flesh out their characters. While nicely observed and well portrayed it adds very little of relevance to the piece and serves to take up time that would have been better spent 'on message' as it were. At times the characters are at pains to avoid discussing the merits of the proposed legislation, when it could (and possibly should) be the main focus. Fortunately strong performances from the cast - particularly from Samuel Jefferson playing the PM's Press Secretary and Andrew McKeane as the Rebel MP - go a long way towards making up for the flaws in the script.

"Answers" is unlikely to be a show you'll come away raving about, but it's good solid stuff and I don't think there will be many disappointed by it.

Answers runs at C Soco until 25th August (not 11th) at 1.45pm.
Please note that we attended an early performance of the show on 31st July with the permission of the production.