FRINGE REVIEW – The Changeling by University of the Arts London

*****

6-15 Aug   1130 hrs  @ Underbelly

By Emily P

The Changeling is a devised piece of drama from University of the Arts London drama society in association with E15 Acting School. The plot follows Bernard, an atypical Londoner, who after helping a dying man on a rainy street embarks on a sacrificial friendship and ultimately a journey of discovery.
The cure that Fred needs in this dark and existential tale is in fact a word. Bernard dutifully sets off heading, not to the dictionary, but out into the city from which his ‘Changeling’ status has alienated him to all but his bed-bound buddy.
His endeavour will see him searching the streets of a London of the not too distant future; A place in which social isolation and mob mentality are as lethal as the smallpox epidemic which is spreading across the capital.
This is a show of ideas and potential. There are some interesting devices utilised to create situation and atmosphere such as the underused film projections and inventive sound effects -provided by two distractingly pretty musicians. There are also flashes of real charm from the both the script and performances, most pleasurably the several ‘character types’ whom Bernard encounters on his exasperated pedestrian travails.
The themes under examination, of life and death and of individuals’ interaction with both each other and society are as big as they come and are tackled here with earnest sincerity by the group. But the fantastic explanations of both Fred and Bernard’s circumstances are left undeveloped by the end of the play and end up distancing the viewer from feeling true empathy with the characters’ universal experiences of personal and interpersonal fulfilment.

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