Thu 3rd – Sun 27th August 2017


Katherine Knight

at 09:44 on 12th Aug 2017



There are a plethora of shows on at the Fringe which are a sight for the eyes and ears, but not many which can lay claim to the nose. Although it’s hardly a treat: the smell comes from Strongbow cider, which is sprinkled across the floor and sits in a puddle, having been poured across our actor, David William Bryan’s, chest. It’s hardly a surprising smell – I long ago lost count of which can he’s on – and it is definitely the real thing. This is just a snapshot of ‘Trashed’, a hard-hitting, grimly realistic show about Keith – an alcoholic, isolated bin-man, by turns wistful and aggressive, who is recoiling from the death of his child. It’s not easy subject matter, and Keith is not an easy character to capture in writing or on the stage. It is telling, then, that the performance which results is so compelling, so emotive, and so gripping.

By far the standout of the show is Keith himself – played by Bryan – who owns the stage with a supreme confidence. His relationship with the audience is erratic and strained, and displays hints of character which go some way to explain the events he retells in vivid narrative flashbacks. One moment he is shaking an audience member’s hand and handing out cans of Strongbow, the next insulting and grimly accusatory – “Stop judging me. You’re in my yard.” The resulting atmosphere is faintly antagonistic, but as the narrative progresses and his fears are bared to the audience, you cannot help but empathise. This is at its heart a story of isolation, of masculinity and vulnerability, as Keith, tied up in stages of grief, stands alone on a stage in an abandoned building.

The sense of loneliness is overwhelming, emphasised by the excellent lighting and sound design which tracks his journey through memory. Sound cues are sharp and the soundtrack all-encompassing, completely transforming a scene with a high-energy rendition of the Kaiser Chiefs. Often a change of scene is only indicated by the lighting itself, and it is unusually expressive and extremely effective. If it is the colour and intensity of light which denote place, it is the transitions which reflect Keith’s moods – occasionally a sharp jolt, sometimes a gradual transition from a happy memory. The lighting set in the present is low, bleak, and conveys a single thought – isolation. Even as a lone actor, the stage feels full of life in the past scenes, so much more than in the present, conveyed of course through Bryan’s high-energy multi-roling, but also through the transformed stage which he inhabits.

What is the take-away message of the show? It is sometimes confused, and the message wanders at the start, but there is a moment of clarity, about halfway through. “We feel it too. The men,” he says, crouched on the floor, strangely vulnerable. “Even though we don’t talk about it.” It’s a spectacular piece of writing by Sascha Moore, although the plot does take a strange turn towards the end – but the message is there, nevertheless. When we can’t turn to grief, we turn to anger – or find ourselves unable to assimilate into society. He lashes out at platitudes as a sign of judgement – the word ‘sorry’ nothing more than “a free pass, a full stop”. In the quiet of his yard which we, the audience, enter, Keith is able to let his guard down; and we share in his horrific and startlingly real world, we find ourselves utterly compelled until the very end.


Neil Suchak

at 10:24 on 12th Aug 2017



In a gritty and alcohol-fuelled depiction of grief and tragedy, ‘Trashed’ soars in its cunning exploration of masculinity, depression and loss.

For a plot with many a dramatic twist, the script puts a lot of weight upon the sole actor who is given the responsibility of navigating these theatrical turns. However, lead actor David William Bryan plays this challenging role with effortless passion and sincerity: portraying a man broken by the loss of his child and the disintegration of his family. The script, written by Sascha Moore, is knowingly crafted with a subtle and dark humour that really lifts the play beyond simply being a harrowing tale of grief to make it something all the more poignant and incisive. It is testament to her writing skill - as well as Bryan’s delivery - that the audience roars with laughter and sharply draws breath in such quick succession.

Bryan’s portrayal of Keith Goodman (aka Goody) is masterful as he embarks on an alcoholic and physically energetic performance that makes one wonder how he manages to achieve such a relentless frenzy every single day of the Fringe: throwing himself across the stage with a controlled yet still dangerous recklessness. He will surely be running marathons by the time the Fringe is over and will probably never want to see cider ever again given how much of it he drinks on stage. He carefully intersperses his meticulous balance of humour and dramatic tension with acerbic and improvised audience interaction. As such he is able to ratchet up the tension to the point where the audience is eating out of the palm of his hand: knowing exactly when to speak softly and draw the audience inside his inner turmoil. Bryan knows how to command the limited space of his stage, making it both feel like he was too large a personality for it and that his grief-stricken soul was being swallowed whole by it. This is crucially augmented by an innovative use of lighting that eerily demarcates the various nuanced tones within the play.

The crux of the story revolves around the impact of grief and mental illness upon masculinity - as Bryan pleads that men indeed feel the horrors of loss yet fail to truly articulate their emotional anguish. Toxic masculinity firmly underpins the whole play as the tumult of Bryan’s family collapsing around him evoke a harrowing expression of masculine emotion from him. There are tears from audience members as the play reaches its tragic and terrifying denouement that truly encapsulates the shows bleak sense of despair.

The only issue to take with such a powerful and compelling piece of drama is that it begins in somewhat of a blur - where Moore’s writing disappears a little too far into anecdote to truly set the stage for audience to truly gauge the first moments and understand quite what is happening. However, Bryan’s command of the script is enough to make even this a riveting watch as he illuminates his own backstory thus drawing the audience into his troubled psyche. Clearly Bryan’s dramatic finesse is enough to paper over any very minor cracks to ensure that this performance is truly moving and truly riveting.


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