The theme if the unFringed(sic) this year was 'Love'.
Perhaps intended as an antidote to the general doom and gloom of the recession, the festival organisers invited practitioners to celebrate the big 'L' in all it's forms: I suppose the intention behind this to use the Arts to focus our minds on what is truly important to us now that we don't have money anymore.
'Love,' 'Love', 'Love' and there I am at the show on my ownie lonely ownself.
Why did the theme of this years fringe festival have to be 'Love'?
I mean its a nice idea to remind people, (who aren't perhaps as fiscally sound as they'd hoped,) that there is love in their lives, but it's pretty hard on those of us whose material wealth AND ability to build long-lasting relationships can be summed up as:
"One small cat: deceased."
So I guess I'm tryin' to say that I found the whole 'love' angle a little hard going betimes. Thankfully though, it really only was the theme of two shows that I went to. One of those shows is the subject for today and that's
'Her name was Pamela Mooney'
Her name was Pamela Mooney- Yay!
A premiere- Yay!
Directed by Local Person Yay!
And so it began.
There they were waiting for us in the theatre with their happy smiling welcoming faces and their children's television presenters outfits, they handed out 'love-heart' sweets, and party balloons and asked my name;
"My name is fuck off! I'm just tryin' to watch some theatre as unobtrusively as possible so that nobody notices the aura of self contempt and failure that hangs about my person like the stale-smell of a life gone rotten and a soul dying!"*Sob*
is not what I said; what I said was:
"My name's Darren"
I got a balloon and I got to play the old schoolyard game where a girl uses the secret knowledge of origami and my favorite colour and number to determine the name of my future life partner.
Kill me now.
Even better, I get to be connected across the seats by a paper chain to a young lady and then introduced! What larks, maybe we shall fall in love!- wouldn't that make a great story!
Okay all these things happened, and it was a bit cringy but it was also a lot of fun and it's 'fringe theatre' so that's the way it rolls, I guess. It established the performers as 'hosts' and set the tone for the show which was clearly to be light, light, light.
And then everything went mad.
In a good way, mind you, in a good way... mostly.
There was a lot of building up, and messing up, and cleaning up,
with the props. Some of it might have made a sort of sense, but a lot of it went right over my noggin.
As promised in the prologue and programme, we were treated to a series of re-enacted anecdotes based on real peoples' recollection of their early crushes and emotional awakenings.
Personally, even though, at this particular moment in time in my life, I believe in Love like I believe in leprechauns: I do adore these type of stories. I would probably have enjoyed them immensely just from source, but I was in for an extra treat.
The various different stories were recreated for us in various different ways,
An actor alone, actors performing the same speech simultaneously, slow and measured, wild and frantic, interrupted by different stories interrupted by seven kinds of shite being dumped on their heads... They were amazing.
It was over too soon, which is always a good sign. Personally, I would've enjoyed more of the stories and less of the clowning, but, as I said I love them stories me.
If I was to have one big niggle, (and I must have my niggles) then I would say this:
'Look how far you've come' is an oft-repeated phrase throughout the show and there is a device of an elephant treading a silver path through the second half; this phrase and this elephant made me wonder if the stories themselves would be part of a bigger story arc that I could make sense of.
If it was anything like that there I never figured it out. Perhaps the people telling the stories got older, I'm not sure, but as they all referred to a period of immaturity it felt to me as if the order of stories could change every night without affecting the show in any significant way.
Over-all, as a play, it wasn't linear enough for my boring old brain but, 'what the heck- it's a 'fringe' festival', and although the bright costumes and jolly jolly tone does not draw attention to the acting in the way that a dark or emotive play might, this was far and away the most difficult and competently executed piece of straight acting that I saw out of the six shows that I attended.
So Pontoon theatre;
thank you guys
You get all my Love.
Directed by Naomi O'Kelly.
Actors names not included in the programme.