Deadline

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Caragh Aylett

at 21:19 on 17th Aug 2016

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As a twenty-year-old woman, the possibility of failure post-graduation is a fear I’m very familiar with; perhaps this is why ‘Deadline’ strikes a nerve. Set in an apartment in London, Stuart and Charlotte are presented with the complexities of this very issue. The incredible acting carries this piece through brutal dilemmas and presents a gritty reality.

With their friend David moving home due to a drug addiction, Charlotte and Stuart are given the task of packing up his things. These two twentysomethings desire to be successful writers, and Charlotte is beginning to achieve this. We learn that she moved out a while ago and her success reveals both the jealousy of Stuart and how impressed he is by her. In the conversation that follows, we are aware of their desire to be writers; even when they are shouting at each other, they are wonderfully eloquent.

The characters provide the audience with links to their past, and the details of their friendship. We learn about drug habits, nights out and their stress at university. The narrative is natural and convincing; they are two friends catching up with each other within a situation they never thought they would be in. They then present more about their personal life, and we learn about the break-up of Stuart’s parents and the attempted suicide of his mother. The writing throughout is witty, fast-paced and truly impressive, the narrative flows successfully without it ever feeling as though the plot is being spoon-fed. It is interjected with comedic moments which lighten the dark play, and develop an elaborate depth of character to the cast.

We later discover the intricate way in which Charlotte is weaved further into Stuart’s family life. The piece drifts through twists and turns, and with each one the audience’s investment in the piece is clear. We watch Stuart’s world come crashing down while Charlotte seeks to justify her actions, her reaction reflecting cognitive dissonance. In the final scene the characters come full circle: we see them snorting cocaine, and repeating their shared youth. It becomes clear that Charlotte really hasn't moved on - they are both still the messes they always were.

'Deadline' is certainly the strongest straight acting piece that I have seen at the Fringe. The actors' abilities to fully embody the characters is nothing short of brilliant, making this a wonderful performance and a must-see at this summer’s festival.

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Ben Ray

at 17:04 on 18th Aug 2016

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As a twentysomething just leaving university with a humanities degree, I find 'Deadline' unsettling and hard-hitting for obvious reasons. Set in the grotty flat of two young people of ‘Generation Y’ who are struggling to survive in the harsh world after university, the play follows two friends and their implosive relationship as they spiral down into despair and chaos. Accusations are thrown, secrets are revealed- all building to a dramatic, powerful climax that utterly crushes the protagonists.

Phrased in such a way, this play is an accomplished piece of work. Both characters, Charlotte and Stuart, are superbly competent and realistic (although some of the opening dialogue does seem significantly jerky, a problem that the actors swiftly overcome). The play addresses the despair felt by those in their ‘quarter-life crisis’; this is pertinent, and probably something all students at the Fringe worry about.

These performers have passion, energy and noise. But this, I think, is perhaps the reason I haven’t fallen in love with this play. Throughout the evening, as the plot grows darker and both characters reveal more about their problems, the developing tension is displayed mainly through the rise in voices, and in the impressive amount of swearing crammed in at every opportunity. I lose count of the amount of times "F*cking shut up!" is bandied about. It’s not that I’m prudish about this expletive expansion- it’s that this is the sole way of developing tension. I am left at the end of the performance wondering if there are perhaps more subtle, intricate ways of expressing the crushed dreams of a generation, apart from furiously shouting at each other for an hour.

The excellent development of character personas seem to be regularly stunted by the amount of clichéd anecdotes and one-liners that permeate the play’s every turn. “We were gonna get out of all this mess one day”, Stuart shouts despairingly, gesturing to a torn mattress and a damp pile of student textbooks - a statement which seems just a little too obvious for a play with such a straightforward theme.

The scattering of clunky metaphors, such as snorting coke off a framed diploma, does not chime with the fluency of the actors' performance. Neither does the script’s tendency to build up nihilistic arguments and character portraits, before needlessly smashing them in the subsequent lines. The final destruction of the protagonists, culminating in a forced session of drug taking, epitomises the overblown approach to the delicate subject matter of a generation’s worries and fears. Or, I am forced to admit to myself as I leave the theatre, perhaps the show simply touches a personal nerve.

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