FRINGE: Theatre – My One and Only – Bakehouse – 4K

Just what is the difference between true love and stalking? When you think about it, it’s really just a question of whether the other person returns your feelings. Layla (Tamara Bennetts) is 29 and newly single. Despite some clearly unresolved feelings for her ex, Ben (William Jarman), she has decided to get back into the dating scene and thus meets Noah (Alan Fitzpatrick). Realising that she’s not ready to let go of Ben yet, Layla decides not to continue the relationship, only to find that Noah isn’t going to take the hint.

Adapted by Dominic Allen, from a radio play by Dawn King which consisted of a series of phone calls, this stage version still has a lot of the action occurring on the phone. Indeed, the majority of characters are never seen on stage and it is left to Bennetts to carry the visual side of the piece through its entirety. For the majority of this time, she is located in her apartment and, while the staging is simple, director Alison Kershaw has created just the right amount of movement for Layla to seem comfortable and at home without letting the action stagnate. Scenes in Layla’s office help to add a bit of variety, though the delay while these are set up does stall the momentum of the piece a bit, when a small, pre-set, desk space would not have been overly intrusive.

Much of the kudos for the success of this show need to go to Bennetts for creating a character that is full of personality, energy and strength but also shows the vulnerability of the victim and the obsessive thinking of the perpetrator. With only their voices to work with, Fitzpatrick, Jarman and Jenny Scarce-Tolley (who plays a range of extra female characters) have a tough job on their hands. They generally meet the challenge, though one or two of the minor roles are a tad overdone, creating caricatures that clash with the realism of the rest of the piece. Fitzpatrick’s natural Irish lilt has a particularly interesting effect, providing Noah with a mixture of charm and menace.

Allen and Kershaw have succeeded in bringing what could have been a visually dull story to the stage in a manner that is instead unique and engaging. While there are a few aspects that could be tweaked, and some of the plot twists are less than surprising, for the most part this is a well-executed and stimulating show.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

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