EFR - Reviews of Mr Incredible

Mr Incredible

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Amy Mace

at 22:10 on 9th Aug 2016

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This bruising monologue, written by Camilla Whitehill and delivered by Alistair Donegan, showcases an incredible acting talent; perhaps the best I have witnessed so far at the Fringe. The intensity and naturalness with which Donegan delivers his lines makes disturbingly real the entire set up: a series of sit-down office sessions with an invisible interviewer who one may presume is either a therapist or a lawyer. The slow and careful revelation of Adam’s (Donegan’s) character through these one-sided interviews paints a vivid and increasingly disquieting picture of the man on stage. The final twist is thus a devastating but sadly believable blow to a character that one has listened to, sympathised with, and tried to understand for almost an hour.

The professional standard of the set and staging make obvious from the outset that this production is going to be of a high calibre. A series of frosted glass panels form office windows as well as a space behind which Adam can change and move, with lighting and music adding to an eerie sense of loneliness, isolation, and of information obscured. Particularly effective is a moment during which Adam stands silhouetted against the glass exhaling the smoke of a vaporiser, a symbol of substantial dependence and a short-lived attempt at self-transformation. The feeling that we as audience members are being denied essential knowledge is repeatedly suggested through Adam’s often unfinished sentences, sentiments tellingly lingering in the air and leaving his story suspiciously incomplete.

Whitehill’s clever and subtle writing starts to hint at its conclusion as Adam’s descriptions of his attitude towards his girlfriend become increasingly sinister. His antiquated idea of her obligation to fulfil his imagined future is stifling, the blame he places on her apparently selfish self-autonomy often difficult to stomach. Adam’s attitude of entitlement and control is at the crux of the piece, and at the centre of the sobering truths it eventually reveals about his story.

The writing, directing, staging and impeccable performance are utterly spellbinding, as Donegan takes unfaltering command of his script. I do not wish to reveal the crucial twist here, as to pre-empt its revelation or soften its impact on those who may go on to view ‘Mr Incredible’ themselves would be to do a disservice to such a cleverly constructed, engrossing and chilling piece of drama. It is an absolute triumph of new writing, and an asset to the Fringe.

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Isobel Roser

at 01:49 on 10th Aug 2016

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Expectations have been high for the team that had such success with ‘Where Do Little Birds Go?’, and it appears that they have struck gold once again with their latest Fringe offering. The subtle complexities of Camilla Whitehill’s script are carried masterfully by solo-performer Alistair Donegan, making for a production of remarkable power and quality. Set in the modern day, but underpinned by a paradigm of male dominance and entitlement, ‘Mr Incredible’ offers a potent commentary on gender imbalance, control and consent.

Angular panes of frosted glass, a single black office chair, and a lonely potted plant in the corner; the ingenious set for ‘Mr Incredible’ cleverly mirrors the sharp, edgy personality of our main character, Adam. Flickering fluorescent lights loom over the stage, picking up on his tension and agitation throughout the production. We meet Adam at a personal low point, as he struggles to deal with the breakdown of his relationship with Holly. He spits ‘I’ve been through hell’ while pacing apprehensively around the stage. Cold, unfeeling music echoes around the room, further sharpening the atmosphere.

For Adam, image is everything. He should not be single. He believes he should have a doting wife by now, as a good looking gentleman with a great job and a lovely garden flat in Stoke Newington. Adam’s vain sense of entitlement is at first mildly off-putting, but evolves into something much more toxic as we uncover more about his relationship with Holly. The pursuit of control soon becomes a central theme. Holly’s clever and passionate nature, which had initially attracted Adam, soon becomes a problem for his tender ego. To regain ground, he pushes her into taking a job that is beneath her and discourages her from any source of intellectual stimulation. Holly’s intelligence dangerously bruises his masculinity, a problem which he can fix with a few personality tweaks here and there.

Donegan is wise to use Adam’s physical habits as a further window into his character. He struggles to remain still and rarely relaxes, pulling obsessively at his collar or the hem of his t-shirt, and frequently running his hands through his hair. His discomfort is palpable when he recalls his lapses of control during the ‘Holly project’. For Adam, the automatic response is to tighten the leash, a reflex which suffocates Holly and destroys his relationship.

The success of ‘Mr Incredible’ is testament to the power of excellent script writing combined with near-flawless execution. By piecing together the audiences understanding of Adam’s character so gradually, Whitehill is able to build a villain from a victim. Revelations and realisations soon hit home, as we are finally enlivened to who Adam really is. Profoundly provocative, ‘Mr Incredible’ is daringly good.

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