+3 Review: Early Doors (Pleasance pop-up @ The Jinglin’ Geordie: 5-29 Aug: 12.00: 1hr)

“A stunning piece of site-specific theatre”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars: Outstanding

After the general bustle of buying drinks, finding seats and, of course, choosing your pub quiz team name, Early Doors opens with an introduction to each character, performed almost like an African tribal chant, which makes it feel like we (the bijou, but sell-out crowd) are being truly welcomed into their community. It’s rhythmic and theatrical but never over the top, and sets the tone for the lyrical, poetic styling of the piece as one long fable.

Our landlord and landlady are a young brother and sister who inherited the place when their mum died. They start by sharing memories of her, and set the scene for a potentially fractious relationship between them. We also meet various other characters in the community: the pub quiz master, who can’t help but share some details of his ongoing custody battle with his ex-wife; the bouncer, who recalls the end of his relationship with one of the local punters; and the “village idiot” who brings the comedy to proceedings. The characters are flawed but lovable, and the ensemble cast do a great job of sharing their world with us.

As the show progresses we get hints of the tensions and relationships between different characters, which help bring interest and drive the story. I did feel slightly robbed in some characters having comparatively little action, while others seemed quite unconnected to the main narrative, so for me, a little further development to see clearer links between each would really make this show spectacular – but this is only a small niggle considering the quality of action and overall performance value.

The piece is performed with wonderful energy, and the writing – in particular the language – of every aspect is exquisite, giving just enough detail to hook the audience without verging on rambling. Yet while some of the transitions between each section are smooth and logical, it is a shame that in other instances the show progresses by simply having one character leave and another mysteriously appear for no apparent reason.

There are so many wonderful aspects to this performance – the characterisation, storytelling, and sense of really being “in it” really are top notch and encapsulate everything I love about the Fringe. I would have just preferred some clearer links between sections and less disjointedness between some of the characters to give the piece a bit more cohesion.

Overall, I raise a glass to Not Too Tame and this stunning piece of site-specific theatre and urge you to go and join them at the Jinglin’ Geordie for a pint, a pub quiz and an engrossing performance.

outstanding

StarStarStarStar

Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 6 August)

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THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED