Waiting for Spring

Sat 19th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Kate Plummer

at 17:26 on 22nd Aug 2017

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Annie has died in a tragic car accident. Her boyfriend, Jack, is left behind with only his jocular best friend Andy and Annie's best friend Emma to comfort him. 'Waiting for Spring' is an interesting although somewhat uninspiring exploration of grief and a lesson about how to move on when the unimaginable has happened.

Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about the development of Jack and Annie's relationship, it's highs and its low and how she has come to die. Meanwhile in the present, Annie played by Steph Reynolds appears as a fragment of Jack's imagination to guide him through the grieving process and to help him come to turns with what has happened.

A touching sentiment, 'Waiting for Spring' though in parts sad, seems to offer a celebration of life. Annie constantly tells the people in her life that thing's will be OK in the end, which may seem an ironic sentiment given her death, resulting in quite an optimistic attitude to permeate throughout the writing.

Jack, played by Alex Noblett is a good actor and his portrayal of grief is palpable and sometimes moving. However his character's chauvinistic attitude in terms of his dissatisfaction about not being the breadwinner in their household as well as his grumpy attitude in scenes set whilst Annie was still alive appears grating and reduces the level of empathy that the audience can feel towards him.

Marcus Christopherson as Andy is not always believable, though this is more due to the writing than the acting. While clearly present to provide some comic relief from the show's heavy theme of death, it seems ridiculous that his best friend would still maintain his jokey exterior and not attempt to provide some emotional support to Jack. We learn from Emma that Andy has not heard from Jack in 6 weeks and yet has not bothered to check on him.

Maybe the presence of comic relief would be more necessary and welcome if the presentation of death and grief was more daring. A highlight of fringe theatre is to see something fresh, with themes and plot points expressed or tackled in bold and risky ways. 'Waiting for Spring"s direction and writing takes a very middle-of-the-road approach which does not make it memorable, meaning that the whole project just doesn't really take off. Overall, it tackles interesting themes in an uninteresting way.

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Constance Kampfner

at 12:26 on 23rd Aug 2017

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The storyline of ‘Waiting for Spring’ has potential. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, but her untimely death cuts things short. Although it’s a story we’ve all heard before, there should always be something new to say about such raw human emotion. Unfortunately, despite some touching moments, I felt that this production struggled throughout to reach a point of originality.

The show teeters somewhere between believability and stiffness. At its best, it successfully showcases moments of true humanity. The chemistry between the couple at the centre of the action, Jack (Alex Noblett) and Annie (Steph Reynolds), feels genuine and I enjoyed watching them flirt and fire witty remarks at one another.

However, in the more emotionally loaded scenes, moments of sincerity are interspersed with somewhat stunted dialogue in which I felt I could almost see the actors over-thinking their next line. It could be argued that the script, which often resorts to cliché, is more at fault here than the acting itself. It almost felt as though the script was trying so hard to make the four characters in the story recognisable figures from every day life, that it failed to make any of them stand out.

It was also a shame that all too often in moments of comedy, the script would resort to uninspired laddish tropes. A classic example would be the undeveloped sub-plot involving the straight male best friend, played by Marcus Christopherson, who is constantly trying to hit Annie’s best friend (Leni Murphy), who, surprise surprise, only rejects him because she is a lesbian. Despite the fact that he discovers this in the opening scene, Christopherson’s character continues to ‘banterously’ pursue her all show.

That being said, the production does touch on the gendered subtext of modern relationships when Annie begins to suspect that Jack feels undermined by her success at work. The tension begins to builds when latter insinuates that she bosses him around the house, an all too familiar insult levied at assertive women. However this could have done with some more development, as the exploration of gender essentially stops at this point.

There is not much which is new or striking about this production. Whilst I did find myself somewhat caring for the characters by the time the show was over, overall I would not say that it had a particularly profound effect.

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