EFR - Reviews of Being Patient

Being Patient

Fri 8th – Sun 17th August 2014

reviews

Georgina Wilson

at 19:24 on 13th Aug 2014

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Spare Parts Theatre Company are doing sterling work to raise awareness about living with kidney failure by taking their play, Being Patient, to the Fringe. The premise of the play is simple: it records one evening at home for young couple Pete and Abi. Pete (Steven Mortimer) is waiting for a kidney transplant; meanwhile he spends his days at home, unable to work, and making daily visits to the hospital for dialysis.

His partner, Abi, (Francesca de Sica), is the only other person on stage, and offers a valuable insight into the difficulties of being simultaneously on the inside and the outside of her boyfriend’s illness. “This is my life”, Pete says at one point, provoking the response “I don’t know how you can even say that.”

The production provokes other thoughts about the ethics of transplants that are probably new for most people without any similar experiences in their lives. I, for one, had certainly never considered the possibility that Pete wouldn’t want a kidney from his long term partner because she might have to “save” her organs for her/their children. The production was also informative on a factual level: Pete is only really supposed to drink half a litre a day; he has the choice of whether to have his dialysis at home or in hospital.

The production is significant to the actor and actress on a personal level, clearly much more than an artistic one. This means that, whilst I applaud the two for their efforts and the impact that they will be making in raising awareness and funding for their cause, the play as a theatrical production left a lot to be desired. This is in part due to the diabolic venue of Café Camino which bears about as much relation to a theatre as an oversized and airy village hall, sending any dialogue up into the air and away from the audience. A few moments of space-like music and voice-overs added very little to the production, mostly because the voice was an inaudible mumble.

The couple are clearly acquainted in real life and so were at ease in each other’s company. Unfortunately the physical ease with which they created the atmosphere of a domestic night in became slightly uncomfortable for younger members of the audience, which was totally unexpected given the venue and time of day.

Being Patient lacks the artistic talent and interest of many other Fringe productions. That said, the point of the play is to convey a message, and in this it certainly succeeds.

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Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 11:08 on 14th Aug 2014

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If nothing else this production supports a good cause. The aptly named Spare Parts Theatre Company was set up to raise awareness, and money for research into renal failure and transplants, and that is the theme of the production. We watch what seems like a normal couple, chatting and flirting in their living room, going over the night’s events like anyone else would, but we are eventually forced to confront, along with them, the implications of Pete’s (Steven Mortimer) kidney failure. What this means for their lives and relationships is explored again and again over the course of the show, with varying degrees of success.

The script is successful in that it seems incredibly natural. It shows the audience a snapshot of two completely believable characters’ lives. It is however, incredibly clichéd and repetitive in parts. Arguments seem to go round in circles, and not in a purposeful, making-a-point kind of way. By the time the later events in the play happen, we are not shocked but expectant. A lack of twists and turns in the plot would be made up for by a wittier repartee between the pair, but the couple’s flirty banter is often boring.

Saying that, Pete and Abi (Francesca de Sica) have genuine chemistry on stage. While some parts are incredibly awkward to watch considering that there are twelve-year-old children in the audience, their relationship is honest and touching in its quiet moments. Their performances would be improved by more commitment to the harsher moments of the show, which should be very powerful but just missed the mark. They clearly care about the cause, but more genuine emotion could be injected into their portrayal of the characters.

The venue, which did feel slightly like a school hall, actually helps to bring a sense of reality to the show. A fuller audience would maybe mean that comedic moments in the script would be better received, and what the company is trying to do is highly commendable. Even if you don’t manage to go and see the show, they deserve as many donations and as much support as possible.

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