Aug 10 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩    Heartwarming

Sweet Grassmarket (venue 18): Thurs 6 – Sun 30 Aug 2015

In a multi-layered and engaging performance, Urban Fox Theatre Company deliver a wonderfully warm and intimate insight into modern life and modern relationships.

We’re constantly connecting every hour of every day craving that real connection, but are often left facing a void. In Dave Fargnoli’s new play, Heartlands, Charlie Souter and Mari Klee take us on a journey of self discovery. We span their lives in an all too short hour and they show us what might just be the meaning of life.

Joe Johnson and Clare Ross. Photo Roddy Simpson

Joe Johnson and Clare Ross. Photo Roddy Simpson

Charlie, played by Joe Johnson, is a humanitarian activist struggling to make his place in the world. On the outside he is an assured and confident man, on the inside a man desperate to make his mark on the world, no matter what that mark might be.

Mari is a successful actress, played by Clare Ross, who continually checks her online statuses like only the profoundly lonely can. They find and lose each other through the years, but keep being pulled back together – each seeing something in the other that fits, seeing a way that they can make a difference.

In keeping with Fargnoli’s previous work, the storytelling is by no means simple. Nor should it be. Life is a complex, messy jumble of memories that is constantly replayed and redefined. Charlie and Mari tell their story through their jumping series of memories, talking both to each other and to the audience.


The result is a such a warm and engaging piece of theatre that it’s hard not to empathise and relate to the characters. Johnson and Ross play Charlie and Mari with a live intimate chemistry which they extend to the audience, inviting them into their hut in the Highlands.

Ross in particular is exceptional, she has an intense ability to make a connection and engage with her audience – which she also demonstrated in Urban Fox Theatre Company’s production of Safeword last year at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Heartlands delivers warmth, sadness, humour and darkness throughout, making it truly realistic and relatable. It’s refreshing to see an honest portrayal of human relationships and motivations engaging on a number of levels and layers, as is true in real life. Amy Gilmartin’s direction too is focused and thoughtful, making the complex narrative and wider themes appear effortless.

Urban Fox Theatre Company are a talented bunch with hopefully a lot more of the same calibre to show us in the future.

Running time 1 hour
Sweet Grassmarket (venue 18), Apex International Hotel, EH1 2HS
Thursday 6 – Sunday 30 August 2015
Daily  (not Wednesdays) at 8.20 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/heartlands
Company website: http://www.urbanfoxtheatrecompany.co.uk/


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