Coup de Grace

Aug 14 2016 | By More

★★☆☆☆  Disjointed

Sweet Grassmarket: Fri 5 – Sat 27 Aug 2016
Review by Linus West

Shows on a Shoestring’s Coup de Grâce starts off strong, the original plot harbours potential – but fails to make the most of it with a script and structure which falls flat.

The Glasgow-based theatre company, founded in 2013, takes on the Fringe for the first time with their own original story, focusing on a young woman trying to cope with her turbulent past.

30 coup de grace

Following a traumatic and, quite literally, bloody court case, Emma (Ruth Brandon), is looking for some kind of emotional closure, to clear her head. She enlists the help of a mysterious psychiatry service, operated by the shady character of Greeter (Michael J Warne).

Using almost voodoo-like sessions, he forces her to relive the memories leading up to and following the experience – nothing blanked out. Eliza Rose and Patric Fuller play Catherine and Charlie: her two best friends who were instrumental in the dramatic events.

The plot, devised by writer Hannah Hopkins Jones, has a strong basis. Reliving past events through visions, a court case; lots of potential there. However, this is poorly executed in practice – the scene transitions and conversations don’t seem natural and it is more like a first dress rehearsal.

The audience is started off with virtually no inkling of what is going on. It’s not clear that there’s been a trial at all, or why these visions are happening. Obviously some things need to be kept a mystery, and unveiled gradually, but the viewer has to be given something to get a footing on.

a constant aura of tension

The cast perform adequately, portraying their characters as accurately as is needed, but could go a step further. If they just turned the volume up a notch the show would benefit massively. They’re clearly talented, but don’t quite let it shine through.

Interactions also feel somewhat forced, something hasn’t clicked onstage yet, the conversations don’t flow as well as they could – there’s a constant aura of tension, even where there doesn’t need to be.

The conclusion also feels somewhat odd. There’s an answer to the story there, right in front of the audience, but they don’t use it in any obvious way.

In their first shot at the Fringe, Shows on a Shoestring start off ambitiously, with a good footing and cast, but just missed the target this time. If they learn from the experience, improve, and come back next time, they will be better equipped to land home.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
Sweet Grassmarket, Apex Grassmarket Hotel, EH1 2HS (Venue 18)
Friday 5 – Saturday 27 August 2016.
Daily (not 16, 17): 12:50pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Shows on a Shoestring Facebook: showsonashoestring
Shows on a Shoestring Twitter: @showsonastring

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