Allison After a Fire

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Eloise Heath

at 09:43 on 16th Aug 2016

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‘Allison After a Fire’ is a poised and deeply touching piece of writing, executed by two superb actors. The sparse forest of standing lamps that comprise the set feel magically unhiemlich, both wild and domestic, and amongst them Colorado Underground create a truly accomplished piece. It is everything fringe theatre should be.

Giving a synopsis becomes a genuine challenge when a script is permeated by such subtlety and nuance as here. Set in the aftermath of a devastating forest fire, the play seamlessly weaves thoughts on nature, renovation and nostalgia into a beautifully simple story; a couple dealing with devastating loss. Snatches of headily poetic monologue are offset by down to earth, idiosyncratic dialogue. Moments of fresh wit directly precede moments of huge emotional impact. The relatable offsets the specific; the poetic compliments the colloquial; the amusing augments the poignant. Much like an ecosystem itself, the writing is, above all, beautifully balanced.

There is a glorious symbiosis between the two actors. Isabella Marie Egizi is a triumph as Allison, executing serious emotional depth. She has the weightiest language to pull off, having to perform the rapturous, sometimes eery bursts of monologue in a way that feels plausible. Without fail, she does so. Playing alongside as Colton, James Ryan Dinneen is a consummate supporting actor. He develops his character in a strikingly endearing way, and yet he retains a certain deference. Egizi’s story arch is undeniably meatier, and is consistently given the room to be so. It is seldom one sees such a believable couple on stage; both are unerringly convincing together and individually.

The flimsy walls of the space meant that quiet moments were occasionally intruded on by exterior noise. Normally this is almost the ultimate mood killer, bar a power-cut or mistimed IPhone alarm. Here, however, the distant clamour just made the gaping silence gape all the more poignantly. It detracted nothing from the play; I only mention it because it really says something when the atmosphere you’ve created so effortlessly trumps noise pollution. Captivating, intense, but never uncomfortable, it is an experience that is genuinely spellbinding.

‘Alison After a Fire’ is comprised of a beautiful script, an enchanting set, and two knock out performances. It turns out the two actors also wrote and directed it. Despite the really irritating levels of talent here, I still highly recommend it.

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Olivia Cormack

at 10:07 on 16th Aug 2016

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“Is the heart too much? Should I get rid of the heart?... I’m keeping the heart.”

A surprisingly comic and painfully human portrayal of loss, love, and a struggle for independence, ‘Allison After the Fire’ is a play not to be missed.

Isabella Egizi had me hooked from the moment she switched on the first lamp and her nostalgic smile brought a grin to the face of every person in the audience. Her performance paints a heart-rending and ultimately uplifting portrait of a young woman who is struggling to hold on to all that has been taken from her, and to deal with losses which we will all experience at some point in our lives. A formidable talent and sensitive performer who perfectly captures the fragility and resilience of the human spirit, to leave the theatre unaffected by Egizi’s performance is impossible.

James Dinneen too is a captivating performer, and a skilful and sensitive writer. His performance as the lovably cheerfully Colton lent the play an air of hope, and the chemistry between he and Egizi created a personal and intimate dynamic which enhanced the realism of the script. The relationship between Allison and Colton is one of tragedy and comedy, in which the gravitas of the one balances by the levity of the other and both actors achieved this balance perfectly.

The simple black box theatre and minimal two person cast make this production an incredibly intimate and immersive experience. The minimalism of the play worked to its advantage, everything on the stage had a purpose and was used and reimagined repeatedly, and the simple setting puts the emphasis on the captivating performances of Dineen and Egizi. The script successfully combines realism and poetry and rendered anything other than minimalist staging unnecessary, easily conjuring images of a forest, a flat, and ashy ruins. The music was used sparingly but to great effect, and even silence was used judiciously. The lamps which formed a backdrop to the stage became trees, sunlight, and fire, and, well, lamps, as the scene saw fit.

A hidden gem of a show that will break your heart and put it back together again in only forty-five minutes, this is a must-see performance and Colorado Underground a theatre company to watch. They get rid of the excess, but they keep the heart.

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