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You Left Me in the Dark
Published on Saturday, 26 May 2012

3 stars

The Jive Monkey Theatre & Bar (venue website)
22-24 May, 8:00pm-10:00pm
Reviewed by Catherine Meek

 Parental Guidance. Under-17's must be accompanied by an adult.
 Warning: Contains strong language.
 World Premiere.
 2-for-1 tickets for Friends of the Fringe members.

Masha loves Constantin loves Nina loves Trigorin: this is a tale of their unrequited feelings and the resulting despair and torment, with characters very loosely based on Chekhov’s protagonists in The Seagull.

It starts with Constantin rehearsing his passionate speech for the forthcoming CND rally. It’s a promising opening, although the CND T-shirts seem a bit anachronistic. Whilst girlfriend Nina gives feedback to Constantin, Masha, much less colourful than Nina, sits in the background, on the outside of their little bubble of love.

It’s a surprise, then, when the next scene is totally Masha’s. Laura Lexx performs a heartfelt soliloquy of secret love – bordering on obsession – for Constantin, which was brilliant. Lexx’s rendition of a Florence and the Machine song, Cosmic Love, ended the piece in an equally stunning style. Yet Lexx is described as a comedian, supporting Stephen K Amos indeed.

The rally lasts two days, but (shock horror) Constantin, notwithstanding his earlier verve and passion for the campaign, has cried off the second day. We are not set up for this, even having watched a series of snapshots of the night before, which takes us through Nina’s fairly sudden switch of attention from Constantin to Trigorin in the bar.

When Constantin returns he looks like one who has wandered 40 days and nights through the desert – which is slightly excessive, he having been gone only one night. Similarly, his feet are red raw, a fantastic example of special effects make-up but, again, perhaps a bit overdone. Still, Masha lives up to her dedication and gives herself the role of bathing them.

Whilst David Pearce played a splendid orator, he delivered his own tragic soliloquy in a similarly powerful key, which was less convincing in this case. Anyway, sadly, Constantin cannot live without Nina, and Masha is, in the words of the song, left in the dark.

Overall this is a watchable production which uses a combination of drama, music and video to positive and interesting effect. However, 45 minutes was not sufficient to explore any of the characters in depth, and so it was ultimately unsatisfying when it finished quite abruptly. Without wanting to be too critical – because I enjoyed it – it did feel a bit like a work in progress.

And, top marks to the company for producing a programme, but unfortunately it just wasn’t possible to read its ever so tiny writing on a grey background… which was really a shame and, sadly, almost worse than none.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.