Elegy For An Echo

August 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

★★☆☆☆     Lacking resonance

theSpace at Jury’s Inn (Venue 260): Thurs 4 – Sat 26 Aug 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Elegy For An Echo – Gin and Chronic’s production at the Space at Jury’s Inn – promises much, but fails to deliver.

The storyline definitely sounds a winner. It concerns a drug that can create the illusion that dead loved ones are still with us. Connor, who has lost his fiancee Jen, is distraught when the trial of the drug comes to an end, but a shadowy figure offers him an unlimited supply – in return for one, as yet unspecified, favour.

Publicity image. Pic Gin and Chronic

The name both of the play and the company show a facility with clever titles, while that premise is fascinating, if a bit Black Mirror. This makes it all the more frustrating that this is not better.

For once, mentioning the set-up is actually a spoiler, because once it has been established, virtually nothing else is done with it. Chris Townsend’s script is diligently structured, but devoid of real development or surprise. Simply namechecking other similar stories – notably The Adjustment Bureau – is not a substitute for creating its own world and texture.

Similarly, Ailis Paterson and Katie Stephen’s direction shows promise, but tries too hard at times. There is seemingly endless fiddling with furniture and props that is just not needed – the changes in scene are clear without people coming on and moving boxes around, while the placing of toys on the floor is unnecessary to achieve the effect that the performances do perfectly well.

The extraneous props simply draw attention from the actors in such a small space, and make it all the more odd that when something could usefully be added, it is absent – such as a character making a phone call when his phone case is clearly empty.

unexpected

The performances themselves, while good in many ways, are often at odds with the required effect. Sarah Schlesinger’s ‘supplier’ has the air of a friendly but slightly over-eager helper at the Book Festival Craft Tent, which seems unexpected and clever – until someone else says how scary she is.



This determination to tell rather than show – and tell things that are at odds with what we can see – extends to Connor and Jen’s relationship. Joshua Kerr and Michaela Gauci portray a believably domestic, bickering couple, but it is very far from the all-consuming passion Connor describes and apparently cannot live without.

Similarly, Chris Bain’s Mitchell is convincingly world-weary, but that is not how the character has to be for the story to work. The most successful characterisation is Heather Brown’s bereaved mother, who is on stage for a frustratingly short time.

There are so many good intentions on display that it is a shame to be so critical, and the company can surely do much better in future. But this falls short in many ways.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
theSpace at Jury’s Inn (Venue 260), 43 Jeffrey Street, EH1 1DH
Thursday 4 – Saturday 26 August 2017
Daily (not Mon 6 or 20) at 8.10 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/elegy-for-an-echo
Company Facebook: @GinAndChronicTheatre
Twitter: @GinAndChronicTC

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