FRINGE REVIEW – While You Lie, Traverse


Various times until 29th August (not Mondays) @ Traverse

By Emily P

Two couples face the truth of their troubled relationships in similarly predictable ways. Helen and Chris in their early 40s and Edward and Ana in their mid-twenties; their stories briefly converging in this new piece of theatre from the Traverse written by rising star Sam Holcroft and directed by post-rising star Zinnie Harris.
The depiction of relationships is accurately observed in flashes and the production is stylishly staged and employs capable actors. However, each of the main four characters is impenetrable in their conformation to predictable type: humdrum housewife desperate to keep husband, angry frustrated boyfriend, insecure young woman willing to sell herself for success and out-of-his-depth business man.
All characters are sexually innocent and thus are able to draw a few gasps from equally sheltered audience members but without drawing emotional or intellectual depth from the subject matter. With regards to each character’s crisis of identity, self-image and power the writing is weak and inarticulate making them appear anachronistically naive for 2010.
The character of Ike seems strangely developed – starting out as a salesman he’s become a surgeon by the climax via a stint as a demented Gok Wan on Britain’s Most Pathetic Plastic Surgery. Whilst he ostensibly doesn’t need a back-story or emotional involvement in the plot as he plays a function to develop each of the other characters, the value of his interactions with the other characters is slightly different each time – to the women the bearer of immediate and shallow solutions to their desperate concerns, to Edward very genuine relief to the stress he is experiencing (possibly at being the slightest character and least capable actor) and to Chris an opportunity to feel benevolent? Whilst he gets a reason to legitimately come across the paths of the other three characters? One isn’t sure.
There are about five good lines in this play. If you can bear the boredom long enough to hear them and like your plays to sound insightful whilst delivering little more thought-provoking fare than an episode of Holby City – fire away.
Oh – and one more thing – since when is a smear test the same as an STD check? – even if the script lacked research someone should have picked that one up surely?

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