FRINGE 2016: THEATRE – The Flanagan Collective: Fable – The Red Queen – 3.5K

Kicking off with an opening that is reminiscent of the Trainspotting intro (choose life), but with a bit more heart, a bit more positivity, and a bit more of a call to action in amongst the acknowledgment that daily life can be a grind, Fable is a rumination on the connection we have to the world, the universe; to our place in it, to the other people in it, and to how we let this slip away.

We are introduced to J (Holly Beasley-Garrigan), who lives in Birmingham, teaches physics and carries on, despite the ever-present drudgeries of adulthood. While deep inside she still dreams of becoming an astronaut, she hasn’t got the heart for it. Literally. She has a congenital defect which restricts her life in some ways, so that for a number of things the best she can hope for is to experience them via the internet. Despite this, she still brims with an infectious determination and can’t quite let go of her dream. When her life drifts from its expected trajectory, she takes the opportunity to do something spontaneous and meets Blair (Dominic Allen), a frank and idealistic tree surgeon, in a small town on the Scottish coast. Their meeting is awkward, yet affable; an exchange of passionate ideas.

The stark, cavernous surrounds of the old Queens Theatre creates an appropriate atmosphere for this stripped back show. Presented almost like a lecture, complete with projections, the third person narrative is an interesting choice. It allows the audience to be given insight into, and connect with, the character’s innermost thoughts and feelings, and for quick transitions of the action through various jumps in time and space. However, it also makes the piece feel heavy going in parts, and can seem a bit self-indulgent.

Both actors do an excellent job, filling the stage with their energy and projecting a nice mix of amiability and disillusionment. Unobtrusive live background music (performed by Wilfred Petherbridge) provides a pleasant soundscape for the story; though the merging of this into the final sequence doesn’t quite reach the crescendo for which it seems to be striving. This is an interesting, if not entirely galvanising, exploration of the life-choices people make, the connections we have with each other, and the human propensity to want more from our existence.

Kryztoff rating: 3.5K

Leave a Reply