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Fringe theatre 2018 - Blackthorn, Summerhall, Three stars / Tremor, Summerhall, Three stars

A boy and a girl are the first two children to be born into a Yorkshire village for twenty years in Blackthorn, Charley Miles’ play, presented by InSite Performance in association with Leeds Playhouse. With that in common, how can they not be lifelong friends? Life, however, has other plans, as childhood romps turn into adolescent awkwardness before ambitions diverge. 

Set against the backdrop of a farming community in freefall, Miles’ play is a tender portrait of a changing world given physical ballast in Jacqui Honess-Martin’s beautifully realised production. Charlotte Bate and Harry Egan throw themselves into this in a way that lays bare the growing pains of kindred spirits increasingly at odds with each other.

Out of this comes a heartbreaking study of how communities and relationships that might once have lasted forever are forced apart, but how, despite the fractures, prodigals and stay-at-homes alike will always return to their roots.

Two toy dinosaurs sit on the edge of the stage throughout Tremor, Brad Birch’s intense two-hander that looks at the fall-out of an unexpected reunion between a couple who split up four years before. While deceptively cuddly-looking, the big green dinosaur nevertheless looks like it’s terrorising the much smaller red one into extinction.

This is reflected in part by Sophie’s appearance at Tom’s door. Sophie and Tom were two of seven survivors of a major accident, and Sophie wants answers.

What at first looks like an emotionally necessary purging gradually morphs into a far darker response to some misguided notion of belonging. As each argue their corner in David Mercatali’s production for Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre, Louise Collins and Paul Rattray bring Sophie and Tom to life with a searing sense of consequence that has left the couple scarred in ways that reflect the times.

The Herald, August 25th 2018

ends



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