Detached

Mon 17th – Sat 29th August 2015

reviews

Flo Layer

at 10:39 on 23rd Aug 2015

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This year Box Revolution theatre company bring an existential play about love to the Fringe. Why do we feel so alone? How do we find love? Why do we push it away? In the age of Tinder and the cornucopia of dating apps, these questions should feel fairly pertinent. Detached makes an admirable attempt to make sense of the space between the individual and fulfilment in love, but unfortunately the answers start to sound a bit like the earnest turning point in an American rom-com: fairly clichéd and tired.

Its narrative structure feels fairly recognisable; Lucy spends the hour revisiting past relationships just at the moments where they went wrong, in the manner of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelty. As Lucy, Sarah Beth-Brown performs with an endearing frankness, addressing the audience in a natural and relaxed fashion directly in between scenes.

The characters are mostly likeable but I couldn’t help feeling (as is perhaps inevitable in short scenes) that the male characters were underdeveloped. We had the controlling and stubborn dancer Robyn (Mark Hobkirk), the bumbling and nervous Ashen (Sani Mahmood) and the predominately Irish – this seemed like the most prominent feature of his character) – Daithi (Tom Moriarty). Despite these fairly limited roles each actor nonetheless performed with competency. Although it all got a little tiring, Mahmood’s portrayal of the awkward Ashen was perhaps the most endearing.

Some of the best moments of this play were its occasional slips into music. As Daithi, Moriarty displayed some excellent guitar skills and the times where Lucy and Daithi sing together were incredibly lovely. While the brief interjection of contemporary dance in the opening scene of the play was interesting, it nonetheless felt a little out of place.

For a play that is supposed to interrogate the act of ‘self sabotage’ that many singletons find themselves performing, I couldn’t help but feel that the ending was far too forgiving. The whole ending could have been played to an interminably uplifting key change that you find in every cheesy pop song. This play has promising aspects, and is acted by an accomplished cast, but it relies too heavily on ideas that have already been done to the death. You would have a much better time waiting to watch the next Richard Curtis film.

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Megan Erwin

at 10:45 on 23rd Aug 2015

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Detached does exactly what it says on the tin. Unfortunately I mean this rather literally: after an hour one can't help but feel that reading the flyer would have been quite enough to get the message of Detached, and avoided an excruciating contemporary dance routine.

Lucy (Sarah Beth-Brown) is a young woman who deconstructs three failed relationships in order to discover “why we disconnect from those closest to us” and whether we “can actually be happy in life”. While the premise is sound, Detached quickly reveals itself as tooth-achingly earnest. Its inability to laugh at itself makes it impossible for the audience to either, making us watch the sententious philosophising of Lucy as her petty domestics unfold in staid silence.

The play is structured by three mini-plays of Lucy and each of her partners, distilling their relationships and what went wrong, followed by a monologue by the current Lucy as she looks back and comments on the meaning of life and love. A bit of subtlety would have gone a long way here in making Detached more powerful and less pedantic. While it does not take long for audience members to cotton on that when Lucy is facing us and speaking to us and has a great big spotlight over her head she talking to us outside of the narrative as herself now, Lucy still feels the need to say “I bet you’re wondering how I can speak to you like this now – but just stop asking questions and just come along for the ride”.

‘Just stop asking questions’ could be the byline for the whole performance. Through Lucy’s soliloquys, Detached tells us exactly what and how we should be thinking and feeling, not only about Lucy’s past relationships, but about the play itself and indeed the meaning of life! The acting and script of the mini-plays struggles to support such grandiose ambitions. While Lucy and her partners (‘The Dancer’, ‘The Artist’ and ‘The Musician’) seem to be going for an almost mumblecore vibe in their informal, quick dialogue, this slightly misses the mark and appears as rather banal. This creates a problematic inconsistency between Lucy’s dramatic deconstructions of ‘great loves’ in her soliloquys and the conspicuous lack of passion or deep connection in the mini-plays.

If Detached has any fundamental flaw, it is that it is too ambitious. While the script and acting is no doubt better than much else on offer at the Fringe, its complete lack of a sense of humour or self-awareness makes it rather sober viewing, and less enjoyable than its less accomplished alternatives.

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