May 5 2024 | By | Reply More

Showcase: Most worthwhile

Traverse: Fri 3 May 2024
Report by Allan Wilson

Framework Theatre’s Louder is a showcase for “semi-staged draft works of 4 brand new plays, all written & directed by early-career artists of marginalised genders.”

The showcase offers writers an opportunity to work with a director and performers to put a short work in front of an audience for the first time. Unlike a scratch night, there is no opportunity for feedback from the audience, or from a panel of theatre “experts”. However, like a scratch night, some performers were script-in-hand, others were off the book.

Leo Shak and Brian Maitland; The Rats’ Whisper. Pic Framework

The Rats’ Whisper

Written by Jinling Wu. Directed by Coco Schogler.

Interesting philosophical ideas presented in an enjoyable conversation between an artist and a scientist, with very difficult attitudes to life.

The play opens with M (Brian Maitland) asleep on a sofa, surrounded by piles of domestic rubbish. Nearby, there are a chair and an easel with a painting of sunflowers sitting on it. K (Leo Shak) arrives, tripping over a pile of litter and gives M a packet of food, which he opens throwing the wrapper to the floor.

Conversation develops between the artist, M, and the scientist, K, ranging from Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings; comparing a “lying flat” lifestyle to running around all of the time; conforming to the “rat race”; to the imagined whisperings of rats.

The relationship between M and K is unclear. Are they flatmates, friends, or could they become more than that, as hinted when K trips over more litter and lands on top of M. There are definite echoes of the 1960s movie, The Odd Couple, in the relationship.

This is an enjoyably cerebral piece with lots of potential for development in the philosophical nature of the conversations, and in the relationship between the two characters.

Leni Daly and Helen Goldie; bright as a dropped coin. Pic Framework

bright as a dropped coin

Written by King Hoberon. Directed by Heath Virgoe.

A romantic drama with a title taken from the opening lines of Caroline Duffy’s poem Hours: “Love’s time’s beggar, but even a single hour, / Bright as a dropped coin…”.

Two teachers, who don’t seem to know each other well, strike up a conversation in a school staff room during a free period. Biology teacher, Gillian, played by Helen Goldie, is about to have a meeting with senior management and needs to have the perfect development plan.

In contrast, drama teacher Suzanne (Leni Daly) feels that the only words that management appreciate refer to money. Conversation develops and we find that Suzanne had been an actor, but turned to teaching for job security. Gillian reveals that she developed a passion for biology, when she read research suggesting that albatrosses (or albatrossai, as she referred to them) frequently formed same-sex couples, bonded for life.

As conversation the progresses, it gradually becomes clear that although they are very different, these women are attracted to each other, but where will this lead?

This is a lovely, gentle romance, with moments of humour, as two teachers slowly find a way towards each other, just like some of their pupils will do.

Anne Yeomans and Emily Drover; Louder Than Words. Pic Framework

Louder than Words

Written by Fiona Moon. Directed by Sarah Marie Mooney.

A powerful drama about relationships falling apart and an unusual revenge.

An environmentalist (Anne Yeomans), who admits to being ‘bonkers about trees’, and her teenage daughter, Kheyla (Emily Drover), arrive at her late mother’s house in rural Northumberland, for a “short break”.

At first, Kheyla is excited to be helping to clear her gran’s house, but misses her friends and is worried by the prospect of having to move to a new school. She hopes her father will join them to help with the house, but her phone calls are unanswered, while we see her mother in a secret series of calls to her husband in which it becomes clear that their relationship has irretrievably broken down. When Kheyla sees her mother with another man she confronts her then storms out of the house to take revenge on her by cutting down a famous tree.

Louder than Words is an excellent family drama, but it is unfortunate that a drama that so obviously took inspiration from the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree was presented in the same week as two men in their thirties were charged for the crime. Also, the many entrances and exits – mainly to allow private phone calls – probably worked in a small rehearsal space; but make for frequent clompy delays on the Traverse 1 stage.

Kat Harrison and Elaine Blair; The Peri Effect. Pic Framework

The Peri Effect

Written by Caroline Mentiplay. Directed by Emma Lynne Harley.

An informative, passionate piece about the life of a woman going through a difficult perimenopause.

After coming out of a divorce, Mary (Kat Harrison), is determined to enjoy the return to life as a singleton, but is struck down by the effects of the perimenopause. On top of this, she phones her daughter, Isla, who is on a play date, to find that she is staying with her ex-husband and his new partner. She suspects that her ex is trying to bribe Isla to stay with him with promises of a kitten.

For most of the play Mary is with a mysterious visitor, Mary Doll, played by Elaine Blair, providing friendship and advice on how to cope with the perimenopause, including appropriate medication, diet, yoga and avoidance of alcohol.

Who is Mary Doll – is she just a helpful neighbour, who has gone through the perimenopause and wants to help her? Does Mary Doll represent Mary’s conscience, knowing what Mary needs to do to alleviate her painful symptoms. There is also reference to a Peri, being a super-natural being descended from paradise in an attempt to help people. Could Mary Doll be such a creature?

Mary is an engaging, comedic figure, to whom the audience warms. We left wanting to know more about how she copes with her changing life. The play offers helpful, non-preachy advice on coping with perimenopause.


Overall, this was a most worthwhile event, providing writers with an opportunity to put their work in front of a near-capacity audience in a leading Edinburgh theatre. Having tested the waters, they may feel more confident about trying a scratch night, where an audience and industry experts will offer constructive feedback and advice.

For future showcases, it might be helpful to take one tip from scratch nights, by having a host, welcoming people to the event and introducing the various performances.

Running time: one hours and 30 minutes (no interval).
Traverse, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED. Phone booking: 0131 228 1404.
Friday 3 May 2024
Evening: 7.30pm (Trav 1).
Run ended: Further details.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your comments