Thursday, 21 August 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Benefits VI: Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia by Jason Hewitt

To the Moon in association with Theatre Bench

Venue: The Monkey House, Zoo

This unusual two-hander from first-time playwright Jason Hewitt is staged in an old church hall out on the fringe of the Fringe. Defiantly lo-tech, the production needs nothing more than a few lights and a rectangle marked out with tape on the floor. 

It’s particularly challenging to show a boring situation without becoming boring yourself, but Claustrophobia triumphs through careful pacing as we gradually get to know a pair of random strangers in a lift stalled between floors– one a neurotic girl (Jessica Macdonald) who lives alone with her cat, one an ex-soldier (Paul Tinto) who seems confident, friendly and calm.  

As the play progresses, neither character can stay in their box as histories emerge and we learn how profoundly damaged both have been.  Who are these people? Are they really stuck in an lift?  Or is the play a metaphor for the ways in which we imprison and enclose ourselves? 

Either way, To the Moon present a thoughtful piece which deserves a bigger audience and with its minimal production values, would be ideal for touring.

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