The Intervention

Aug 17 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆       Support required

Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14): Wed 3 – Mon 29 Aug 2022
Review by Tom Ralphs

The Intervention, by Watch This Space Productions and Gilded Balloon, playing the Billiard Room in Teviot all Fringe, is a black comedy where two friends meet after not seeing each other for two years.

As Ally tries to uncover the reason why Finn disappeared from view, it becomes clear that the reunion is not going to go well. What’s harder to understand is why they were ever friends to begin with.

Gus Lymburn and Gareth Mutch in The Intervention. PIc: Steve Ullathorne

Keir McAllister’s script taps into the full range of lockdown anxieties. Finn, played by Gus Lymburn, has quit his job after an online funeral that only he attended made him question the whole point of a 9 to 5 existence. Ally, played by Gareth Mutch, only misses the banter and as such gives us the less thinking response to lockdown.

There is a mystery in the opening exchanges as Ally probes Finn and Finn refuses to give any explanation for his disappearance. Ally’s indignation, at Finn’s lack of contact and his concern for his friend’s wellbeing, also strikes a chord; suggesting that underneath the lad exterior there is a real person waiting to get out and a strong bond between the two friends.

Lymburm and Mutch are superbly cast, both individually and collectively. Lymburm’s thoughtful, withdrawn portrayal of Finn contrasts with Mutch’s bluster and belligerence as Ally is caught between happiness that his friend isn’t dead, disappointment that he could disappear and not get in touch for two years, and annoyance that it took a chance conversation in a kebab shop for him to be able to find him.

However, the script doesn’t really deliver on this early promise as both characters drift into stereotype. Finn is a sensitive person who talks about mental health, loneliness and the feeling that life is worth nothing. Ally is the anti-woke, anti-mental health, get back to work crusader.

great one liners

While Lymburm and Mutch play their roles to perfection, they aren’t given much to play with as they move through set piece conversations that often see them talking at each other rather than to each other. The script never flatlines, and it is peppered with great one liners, but it often stays in the same place for too long and misses opportunities to go beyond the headline tropes.

The plot twists are delivered on cue as the play edges closer to the 45 minute mark and then come with more speed in the final 25 minutes. They allow a different take on what has gone before, and shift the play from reflective comedy to drama. In doing so it invites a re-evaluation of the decisions and motivations of Finn while confirming Ally to be what he increasingly appeared to be.

This is McAllister’s first time as a director of his own work and it feels as if the script would have benefited from an additional pair of eyes and ears that could have edited out some parts and allowed other parts to breathe and develop more.

It is entertaining but as an exploration of how lockdown has affected people and how difficult it can be to break with past lives and past habits it is only scratching the surface.

Running time: One hour and 10 minutes (no interval)
Gilded Balloon Teviot, (Billiard Room), Teviot Row House, EH8 9AJ (Venue 14)
Wednesday 3 to Monday 29 August 2022
Daily: 15:00 (not Wed 17)
Tickets and details: Book here.

Watch This Space:
Twitter: @productionsWTS
Instagram: @watchthisspaceproductions

Gareth Mutch and Gus Lymburn in The Intervention. PIc: Steve Ullathorne


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