Assembly St Mark’s
(Originally published here)
Three actors take to the unconventional stage space at the Assembly St. Marks – a basement room that looks uncannily like a village hall – in which the audience sit behind tables, playing games and watching a well-written and captivating piece of theatre.
Nutshell Theatre take us through the lives of a husband (William), his wife (Joan) and her somewhat clingy best friend (Izzy), characters old in youth and youthful in old age. The play starts in the current day as the eighty-year old man introduces a committee-style game of Beetle Drive (my team didn’t win, in case you’re interested), his wife Joan notably absent. We then spin back through time almost unnoticeably, and follow their collective story back from the 1950s to the present day.
Inspired by a collection of memories of the over-65s of Fife, this piece is touching and stylishly made – the props are minimal and the objects that are used always have resounding significance, the acting is excellent, and despite the inclusion of some themes in the work that have been explored in other theatrical work, we always feel in safe hands and away from cliché.
Stephen Docherty as William displays marvellous comic timing as well as being completely sure of his character, never rushing or fumbling; the two actresses not far behind him in their adept control of body, voice and interaction with the audience. The writing, however, is the star of this show – not accredited to anyone in particular on the programme – with the manipulation of time deftly managed and the incorporation of era-particular language throughout the play subtle and well-placed.
The overall feeling you come away with is one of satisfaction that, at a Fringe so obsessed with form over narrative, you have finally been provided with a story. Of course, it is also cleverly told, and despite the lack of any political or overtly obvious message about old age, the play is effortlessly entertaining and well worth a watch.