Middle Child return to Edinburgh with their latest production - Eve Nicol's debut, One Life Stand. It's a complex painting of a typical cosmopolitan night out. Daniel Perks reviews:

Just another night out in a northern town – night buses, twilight dinners, clubs opening late. This one happens to be Hull, but One Life Stand rings true for most UK metropoles. And as the city buzzes with the energy of the night ahead, so too does its digital footprint. Online deliveries, kitten memes, Instagram pictures. No likes, no replies, no response – these are themselves a message, a lack of interest, a feeling of despair. Momo (Anna Mitchelson) takes down pictures that don’t get enough attention. Kit (Edward Cole) gets frustrated at Kat’s lack of response to his cute kitten posts. Blue ticks glare back at him as she deletes them with annoyance.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 One Life Stand

Edward Cole & Anna Mitchelson (image courtesy of Wullie Marr)

But for all Eve Nicol’s script is contemporary and up-to-date, One Life Stand as a production doesn’t really go anywhere. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s just another night out in a big city, searching for meaning and ultimately finding cold chips at the end. Pics for kicks and clicks to find connection in the abyss.

The onslaught of lights, music, incoming distractions is initially an annoyance. But it does emphasise the world that brings Paul Smith’s buzzing cityscape into the confines of the Roundabout at Summerhall. And as the characters act equally as storytellers, there is an intimacy to their individual tales that invites the audience even deeper into the narrative. It takes half the play to make connections between the three; their threads intertwine in sporadic, random ways – another nod to Nicol’s eloquent depiction of a bustling cityscape.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 One Life Stand

Anna Mitchelson (image courtesy of Wullie Marr)

One Life Stand isn’t quite a gig theatre piece, and it’s in this indecision that the main faults can be found. There is a lack of clarity to the show as a concept, which is some ways fits with the lack of direction each character feels in their general lives. But in other ways, it loses its audience – lyrics are speak-sung in a manner like The Streets, but of seemingly mundane and nonsensical topics that add little to the storyline when underscoring is added.

The versatility of the actors is reflected in the insecurities of their characters – each one needs to be a different person for different people. Kim (Tanya Loretta Dee) is the most intriguing but has the least developed part, the least material to play with and explore. Kat’s emotions are the most complex and Dee reflects these in a nuanced portrayal that encompasses her frustrations and insecurities with both her professional and personal life.

Kit by contrast is more insecure, less full of drive and ambition. Cole embodies these attributes effectively, capturing the character’s lack of direction and magnetic draw to the alternative nature of Momo. The show romanticises this encounter, a late-night love story between a grown man and a teenager that leaves everyone a little uncomfortable.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 One Life Stand

Edward Cole & Tanya Loretta Dee (image courtesy of Wullie Marr)

One Life Stand emphasises how it’s often more comfortable to open up to strangers, which is why Kit and Kat can never quite share their true feelings to each other. Momo for both characters is the confidante, despite Mitchelson’s portrayal of a girl with standoffish confidence. As a snapshot of isolated city living, Nicol paints her picture with vivid colour. But One Life Stand lacks elements that make it stand out – they are interesting artistic devices more so than impactful moments.

 

 

★★★☆☆

One Life Stand runs at Summerhall as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 until 26 August 2018. For further information, please visit the venue website.