Review: In Transit

Nov 19 2009 | By More


Review by Thom Dibdin

Strong writing and interesting characters make the first outing from the Actors Kitchen something of an unexpected treat, to be found until Saturday in the small theatre of the GRV on Guthrie Street.

Unified by the theme of waiting for a delayed flight in an airport lounge, the fifteen scenes of In Transit share five writers and nine performers. Chance encounters, hostile departures and wistful, end-of-holiday longings add up to a thought-provoking hour and a half.

As a scheme, it is not without its drawbacks. Not least for director and script editor Mark Prebble. He has the job first of smoothing the writing to an equal standard and then of bringing the whole into the overarching theme, so it doesn’t feel too much like reading a collection of short stories.

It is with the latter task that the production falls down. The high concept is not merely that the passengers are all waiting for delayed flights, but that all their flights are delayed by the unscheduled takeoff of the plane taking Al Megrahi home to Libya.

It is a great idea, creating many possibilities for unifying the different scenes. Unfortunately, not enough of them are taken. A sense of continuity does exist, thanks to a recurring drama about an airline receptionist and her dependent sister, and characters do pop up in different scenes. But it is a hesitant kind of continuity because not enough is made of the potential for cross-scene pollination.

Ironically, it is Prebble’s own scene, Plane Spotter, between a plane-spotter and a Lockerby resident which feels forced into the scheme. Unfortunately it is the only one which seeks to link the politics of the situation at the airport with the dilemmas of the real people, unexpectedly effected by Megrahi’s release.

The real jarring factor, however, is the scene changes. There seems little point in having the most basic scenery of large boxes and chairs, if you are going to spend a minute rearranging them each time.

All this said, there a those standout moments and performances. Helen Bang’s two offerings, Flo’s Story and Friends Reunited are fantastic examples of the art of creating and developing characters over a short time to deliver a nicely unexpected ending.

In the former, Margaret Fraser plays Flo who is running away from her long-term institutional background. Laverne Hawthorne and Danielle Farrow provide great support as the pals who help her out but become suspicious of who she is.

in the latter, Hawthorne combines with Gabrielle Barker as old friends, bumping into each other on the way to a common friend’s wedding. In both cases, the performances rise up to the quality of the ideas and the writing.

The Actors Kitchen is a collective which gives actors a space to practice and develop their skills between jobs and auditions. This project has certainly done that, while providing a solid piece of entertainment along the way. It does need more work, but the basics are there and the result is a satisfying piece of Fringe theatre.

Run continues to Saturday

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I really enjoyed this production, especially the performances of Danielle Farrow as the dotty Katrine (reminiscent of Blanche Dubois in “A Streetcar Named Desire”), Laverne Hawthorne in “Friends Reunited” and Adrienne Zitt in “Paris New York”.