Front Line

Aug 5 2016 | By More

★★★☆☆  Whimsical

Just the Tonic at The Community Project (Venue 27). Thurs 4 – Sun 14 August 2016.
Review by Thom Dibdin

Spirited, endearing and not a little whimsical, Elyssa Vulpes’ solo show Front Line is a brave attempt to marry music and theatre which never quite gets as gutsy as it needs to be.

There is plenty there for the taking, however, in the story of a disgruntled sex-education counsellor, Sophia, whose own hang-ups don’t let her hear her own inner-voice.

Front Line publicity. Image Elyssa Vulpes

Front Line publicity. Image Elyssa Vulpes

Vulpes, best known as a musician, creates a perfectly believable character in Bosnia-born Sophia, aware of society’s judgemental attitude towards a single 40 year-old woman who has the audacity to not be a mother.

Owner of an over-indulged cat, she is otherwise unable to quite get round to commitment. Thanks, it turns out, to the lingering guilt of being in Italy, aged 15, when the Bosnian war broke out and she being unable to return home after the end of her six month stay.

The whole show is created in a manner which pitches somewhere between stand up and theatre. The difficulty is that director Mahayana Landowne hasn’t helped Vulpes to the point where it can land comfortably in this position.

Vulpes certainly has the bottle to face up to some pretty intense audience interaction during scenes in which she is the sex-education counsellor, telling her class about relationships. It is the pace of it which doesn’t come off, particularly as she moves into other more introspective environments.

simple clarity

And as a theatrical creation, Sophie is just too malleably delineated to work. Meaning that, crucially, the creation of her own inner voice is somewhat lost.

There is no problem with the inner voice, however, who is embodied in Vulpes’ bitter-sweet songs, delivered with simple clarity of self-accompanied guitar which shows off her own vocal talents to charming effect.

As it stands, this is a likeable enough show which doesn’t yet make quite enough of its comedy to get over its over-earnest sequences. That said, this was the opening night of a run which will no doubt help the talented Elyssa Vulpes to shade in more colour to what is at the moment a rather sketchy endeavour.

Running time: 55 minutes.
Just the Tonic at The Community Project (Venue 27), 86 Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QA.
Thursday 4 – Sunday 14 August 2016. Daily: 8.15pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Company website:
Twitter: @elyssavulpes
Facebook: FrontLine.Fringe2016

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