The Result of a Man and his Ponderings

Mon 11th – Thu 21st August 2014


Jessica McKay

at 17:51 on 18th Aug 2014



From its title you might expect The Result of a Man and His Ponderings to be a hard-hitting, memorable piece of black comedy. Sadly, it didn't live up to its lofty label.

The Result - a new play written and produced by Carys Tavener - told the tale of Finlay (James Last), a socially inept man who believed that objects in his house (Curtain (Lukas Jones), Wall (Oli Cooper) and Door (Jenny Stephenson) were speaking to him. A chance encounter with a woman (Amy Woods) at the library sent him and his appliances into a frenzy, and created further unwanted interaction with a Detective (Abbii Sutcliffe).

The cast of Hull University students was fairly weak overall. Last was the most consistent, conveying Finlay’s nervous disposition well. I found Jones, Stephenson and Cooper’s ensemble performance cheap and tiresome, and think the house could have ‘spoken’ to Finlay in a subtler, more sophisticated manner. However, it must be noted that the trio did glean some approval from the audience with their mainly physical gags. Some may have enjoyed this type of slapstick humour.

Woods lacked confidence in her role, and seemed to be less familiar with the script than the rest of the cast. Sutcliffe also came across as quite wooden, but I think this was down to the overpacked dialogue she had rather than an essential flaw in her acting ability.

Tavener’s script had potential, but it still needs a lot of work. Far too much time was spent on minor details and not enough given to the explication of the plot at the play’s conclusion. The ending felt like it could be strong, but it wasn’t linked well enough with the preceding story to have any real, lasting impression on the viewer.

A Result was reminiscent of an amateur school production. It might have made some feel a warm glow of nostalgia, but I think the average Fringe-goer will be disappointed at having parted with five pounds to see a play their teen could have produced. If you’re feeling exhausted at the end of the Fringe and are looking to be spoon-fed some un-testing, easy comedy, I’d give The Result a go. Otherwise, steer well clear.


Fergus Morgan

at 03:30 on 19th Aug 2014



At times engagingly thought-provoking, yet at times frustratingly lacking in profundity, The Result of a Man and His Ponderings is a moderately moving portrait of a man entirely cut-off from society. It features delectable physicality and laudably slick dialogue, the intellectual shallowness of which proves the play’s only major drawback.

The play is almost entirely set in the meticulously arranged living room of Finlay (James Last), an isolated ‘creep’ who only ventures from his house on a Tuesday morning in order to read obscure volumes at the public library, and whose only social interaction is with three items of his furniture: a set of curtains (Lukas Jones), a door (Jenny Stephenson) and a section of wall (Ollie Cooper). The bizarre foursome’s obsessively ordered life is disrupted when they discover a cup of tea that none of them remember making, learn of a mysterious woman (Amy Woods) lurking in the kitchen and are confronted with a forthright detective (Abbii Sutcliffe) that asks some particularly uncomfortable questions of them.

Disruption, and the mixing of polar opposites, is a key theme throughout. Inside and outside; order and chaos; sanity and insanity; even life and death – all are confused, even conflated at times, as Finlay and his furniture struggle to cope with their ordeal. Their emotions leapfrog from relaxation to panic, from sadness to shock, and from amusement to anger as their world collapses around them, at times in notably entertaining fashion.

Aesthetically, The Result of a Man and His Ponderings is particularly pleasing. The synchronism between Jones, Stephenson and Cooper is particularly laudable for its slickness; it maintains the audience’s attention when the script’s more abstract wanderings fail.

On the whole, director Carys Tevener has orchestrated a performance that emanates fluency. Although during the play’s opening character interaction is somewhat clunky, as the plot develops the effort put in by both cast and director becomes observable. Dialogue is, for the majority, quick and sharp, and all do well to deliver it at a consistently high tempo.

For all the dialogue’s verve and verbosity, it fails to reach any kind of tangible profundity, and this is ultimately the play’s largest drawback. One distinctly feels that too much quasi-philosophical discourse has been crammed in to a play less than an hour long, and this regrettably results in a distinct lack of depth.


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