Creating Rumours

Fri 3rd – Sat 11th August 2018

reviews

Megan Luesley

at 00:45 on 7th Aug 2018

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I’ve listened to The Chain, and that’s about as well acquainted as I am with Fleetwood Mac. Maybe there’s some magic to Strickland Productions’ show, following the band as they create their album, ‘Rumours’, that I would have felt if I was a diehard fan. It’s not even that it’s a particularly bad show, though certainly flawed. It was just ultimately underwhelming in most aspects, making the whole experience rather forgettable.

To give the cast their due, the space was oppressively hot and the audibility was hampered by an obnoxiously loud air conditioning unit. But this is the Fringe, and it’s almost impossible to completely escape background noise no matter the venue. In any case, it was difficult to hear the exact words that the show’s narrator and Fleetwood Mac’s producer, Ken Caillat (played by Sam Morris) was saying – unhelpful, since his opening narration provides the context of who everyone is for those of us uneducated about the relationships and members of the band. Instead, some mumbled introductions left me floundering to work out exactly who these people were and why they should matter.

Vocal delivery was generally a weak point. American accents were often shaky, but the real flaw to the whole production – and delivery specifically – was a lack of variety. Lines were often said at a conversational pitch or shouted if a character was angry. As a result, all the dialogue sounded too wooden. Take the line “I love you and I don’t want us to break up”, which sounded so horribly scripted that it was impossible to take as genuine, or “Oh my god, cocaine, let’s take some!” which was almost laughably unrealistic. Emma Summerton’s script does have some emotional potential, even if the dialogue is stilted at points, but the mostly flat delivery robbed it of any impact.

In the mess of relationships between band members, there’s something buried in this show about love and music, but as all the characters feel as emotive as cardboard it’s difficult to empathise with their predicaments. Arnaud Lacey as Mick Fleetwood had some standout moments, but the problem is that most of this show felt as if it was being done by rote. When Mick spills scotch down Christine McVie (Boo Jackson), it was a painfully over rehearsed moment to watch. Again, maybe these were just symptoms of the horrible heat draining the cast of energy, but the show felt like it needed an injection of life and spontaneity.

Not helping matters was the constant, quiet soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac that played throughout the whole production. At times, this was atmospheric – but so often it felt unnecessary and dissonant. It can be difficult to sympathise during a heartfelt moment of anguish when the tune in the background is almost cheerful.

Still, there is an interesting story here, and great thought has gone into the idea of these characters, even if a lot of it was lost in translation. The costumes were also commendable, particularly Stevie Nicks (Emma Pallett) and McVie’s, giving a perfect sense of the period and aesthetic of the show.

Lacking an emotional charge and passion, ‘Creating Rumours’ never felt like it built up to anything meaningful, and when it ended it did so with a whimper. Fans of Fleetwood Mac might like it, and there’s nothing horribly wrong or offensive about it. The performance just fell flat.

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Louis Harnett O'Meara

at 13:02 on 7th Aug 2018

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On a stage littered with empty beer bottles, bags of cocaine and recording equipment, the sound engineer Ken Caillat, performed by Sam Morris, prowls onto stage. This, he tells us, is the story of the making of the one of the world’s most extraordinary albums: Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’.

Emma Summerton’s script ‘Creating Rumours’ relates the tale of one of the most explosive series of recording sessions in history, a spiral of excess: cheating, drinking, snorting, and making incredible music. The perfect story was already there, a drama that unfolds with room for passion, character and creativity. But with the story and the characters already so well known, the album so close to so many people’s hearts, it had to be done exactly right.

‘Creating Rumours’ wasn’t perfect. While Sam Morris acted Ken convincingly he needed to work on his projection, with a lot of his narration lost in a slight mumble. The very heights of passion were passable, with one furious argument between Christine (Boo Williams) and John McVie definitely having some effect, but in general the tone fell flat. Arnaud Lacey as Mick Fleetwood, supposedly the rock that managed to hold the band together throughout the sessions, seemed more like a teddy bear. His voice was often awkward rather than powerful, and his stiff stance didn’t scream confidence. And, not to seem pedantic, but where was the music? The play really needed to exhibit some live talent if it wanted to truly capture the spirit of ‘Rumours’, but none of the actors seemed to want to pick up and instrument or sing a note.

I don’t want to seem too harsh. Emma Pallett deserves some recognition for carrying a few of the scenes, capturing Stevie Nick’s zany drug-fuelled personality through her full commitment to the role. The scriptwriting was generally good, the staging and costumes were strong, the concept was certainly appealing. But the performance needed work. That shouldn’t be too hard with the rest of the Fringe ahead of them – it was only the show’s first night. So next time, let’s hope they go with confidence, their own way. (Sorry…) Because if you’re going to tell the story of ‘Creating Rumours’, please make sure you get it right.

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