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Home arrow Archive: EdFringe 2013 arrow Bridge to an Island
Bridge to an Island
Published on Tuesday, 13 August 2013

3 stars

C venues - C nova (venue website)
31 Jul, 1-26 Aug, 2:15pm-3:15pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

This simple, sad play from Brighton-based Out Of The Trunk Productions explores the world of our imagination – the metaphorical island to which we can retreat, turning our backs on the real world. There’s some good acting and some fine wordsmithery on display, but the plot is rather one-note, making it difficult to truly engage with the human tragedy that forms the story’s core.

The play is built around a nameless protagonist, who remains on stage throughout – and it’s well worth watching her expression, as the stories she’s imagining unfold.  Actor-playwright Rosanna Wood shows a fine attention to detail here; she’s out of the limelight, but still very much a part of the act.  Her tragedy appears to be that she can’t control the stories she’s telling.  She’s summoning characters from her own subconscious, yet her delight soon turns to horror as their lives – the lives she’s invented – turn sour.

The stories present a reasonable mix of people and times, though for the sake of variety I’d perhaps have lost one of the two wartime tales.  They’re acted out convincingly by Ross Kernahan and Annabel Sacher, who cope well with the constant switching of characters from scene to scene.  The staging is a little static, however: there’s a sprightly quality to the opening, which is sadly lacking from the rest of the play.  And the large packing-trunk (after which Out Of The Trunk Productions is presumably named) is used primarily as a seat, which seems a shame for a prop so pregnant with possibility.

At times the stories feel repetitive, and the highlight for me was the one tale told as a retrospective monologue – a welcome change in format, which helped re-focus my attention on the relatively wordy script.  This particular story, of a gay man who loses his soul-mate, was deeply affecting and beautifully well-portrayed.  And it’s here too that the writing was at its strongest – though the quality of the imagery remains high for the whole of the play.

Emotionally however, I felt the script expected too much from me.  Absolutely all of the stories are downbeat tales of loneliness and tragedy, with very little humour or even hope to break up the general gloom.  And because the segments are all quite short, we’re continually asked to form a profound personal connection with people we’ve only just met.  The stories were moving, yes – but after a while, I found it difficult to truly care about yet another stranger’s troubled tale.

The exception, of course, is the nameless daydreamer herself, whose final monologue pulls the pieces together and explains the story of her own life.  I’m not sure the conclusion does quite enough to justify what’s gone before; the characters she conjures repeatedly ask her why she’s invented them, which hints at a mystery that’s never quite resolved.  But still, the ending reminds us of the importance of kindness towards the people on the edge of society… and of the loneliness which might be hidden behind any given front door.

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