Level Up

August 8, 2019 | By | 1 Reply More

★★★★☆    Comic foreboding

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Sun 4– Sat24Aug2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

Level Up by Full Breakfast and New Celts at theSpace on the Mile is a believable portrait of social control made enjoyable by some warmly human performances and pin-sharp direction.

Apparently inspired by China’s Social Credit system, Lee Sutton’s play shows a world identical to ours, but where credit scores have been extended to all areas of life. They determine where you can live, what job you can do, and (in the case of Jimmy and Natasha) whether you can get married.

Natalie Kelly, Rory Crawford, Calum Philp and Mackenzie Paterson. Pic Nigel Ashworth

The premise is intriguing and far from being a remote possibility. It is perhaps not carried through as rigorously as it might be, but while the play loses steam before the end, it still holds considerable interest. This is helped here by some likeable performances.

Craig Smillie and Natalie Kelly are convincing as the central couple. Smillie’s tousled incomprehension is perfect as the everyman figure who, caught up in an unresponsive system, comes to discover that power and order appeal to him. The character’s progress is subtly profound – certainly more so than the clunky video-game references exemplified by the title that are thankfully soon dispensed with.

Kelly, meanwhile is excellent as the woman who seems to want to be left alone but may be hiding a secret. MacKenzie Paterson displays an excellent sense of comic timing as Jimmy’s slacker friend Tommo, while Calum Philp (Jimmy’s brother Andrew) also has enviable comic gifts.

affable

Rory Crawford’s portrayal of the state’s representative Hugo is very interesting; rather than being overtly sinister, he comes across as affable – and is all the more worrying as a result.

Throughout, director Nigel Ashworth has made good choices. While the constant moving of furniture to denote scene changes is distracting and unnecessary, most of the rest is right, down to the spot-on choice of background music – David Byrne at his most funkily paranoid.

There is a flow and coherence to the production that is very impressive, and stops things falling apart later on as the script loses some momentum.

This is a warm and accomplished production which mixes humour and foreboding very effectively.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile, 80 High St, EH1 1TH (Venue 39)
Sunday 4– Saturday 24 August 2019
Even dates only at 2.05 pm
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/level-up

Facebook: @fullbreakfastproductions
Twitter: @BreakfastFull
Instagram: @fullbreakfastproductions/

Natalie Kelly, Calum Philp, Mackenzie Paterson, Craig Smillie and Rory Crawford. Pic Nigel Ashworth

ENDS

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