Three Coins

Sat 2nd – Sat 23rd August 2014

reviews

Gender Trouble

at 22:53 on 14th Aug 2014

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Three Coins follows the story of 20 year old Rob and the loss of his grandmother. The play takes place in his therapy sessions and is punctuated by flash backs to moments with his grandma when he was younger.

Whilst the play did succeed in evoking some sense of what it must be like to loose a loved family member, it was painfully let down by it's writing. Cliches emerged at every corner of the play and one couldn't help but find the dialogue disengaging and unrealistic. One example of this was when Rob was caught having sex and his Grandma remarked "Everything I've done for you. You're awful" to which he replies "No. I'm twenty" - to say the odd cringe was noticeable would be an understatement.

Rachael Wheeler's tight lipped, unsympathetic characterisation was equally unconvincing, and had she not been given lines such as 'Rob you have to focus on the positives', one would've been easily mistaken in thinking her an interrogator rather than a therapist.

The play was also let down by it's direction - the decision to have the therapist look and engage with all the events within Rob's flash backs (rather than simply remaining frozen) was simply unrealistic and disorientating . Equally ill judged was the writer's attempts at comic interludes such as the wholly inappropriate blaze clergyman and jokes about what different types of coffin exist.

One redeeming quality to the production was it's opening, which featured Rob being smothered by a cacophony of sympathetic voices before finally screaming. This really was quite harrowing, and evoked something of what it must be like to deal with other people's grief on-top of ones own.

Overall, however, the performance failed to convince and one couldn't help but feel the Fringe holds other delights.

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Rob Collins

at 09:51 on 15th Aug 2014

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On paper Three Coins has a huge amount of potential as a show. The subject matter, a young man struggling to come to terms with the loss of his grandmother, is certainly an interesting one and offers opportunities to explore the darker sides of human existence. The opening of the show was extremely effective as the main character Rob is subjected to a barrage of “I’m sorry, if there’s anything I can do”. However, following this, the production fails to deliver on a number of counts.

For a start, the venue choice was disastrous for the play. Such an intimate piece as this relies on a connection between audience and character which would have been far easier in a smaller venue. The room is so cavernous that the dialogue, (which was generally poorly projected and a little contrived), simply floated up to the ceiling without really being heard by the audience. This in conjunction with the use of flashbacks in the show meant that I spent a lot of the show trying to work out what one earth was going on. The pacing of the show was also a real problem. For a production that lasts only forty five minutes it drags horribly at points, with long pauses between lines that were simply unnecessary.

Unfortunately Oliver Giggins’ Rob doesn’t seem to have any depth and this makes it difficult to connect with his character. There is the odd moment, such as the fairly moving funeral scene where we see a glimmer of what Rob could be as a character, but these moments are all too infrequent. Rachael Wheeler’s performance as the therapist suffers from the same problem and she plays the role with far too much passive aggression for it to be truly believable.

The directing too suffers from a lack of imagination. Whilst the minimalistic approach works well for the scenes with the therapist, the rather obvious direction for the flashbacks means that they have the feel of a show-and-tell. Just when you think it’s starting to get going, the brakes come on, as with the bizarre and utterly unnecessarily long dish-washing mime.

To follow the therapist’s advice, (“you must look for a positive”), perhaps the strongest aspect of this show is the use of music which is both effective and well judged. However, even this could not rescue what is a disappointingly underwhelming show. There is genuine potential here and writer/director Ash Pryce has clearly invested heavily in terms of emotion in the show, but there remains much work to be done.

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