|Published on Friday, 09 August 2013|
This loveably eccentric new play from last year’s Fringe darlings, DugOut Theatre, blends together the comic, the tragic and the somewhat absurd. Its shamelessly intelligent plot sees a young theatre columnist, Danny, arrive to interview an up-and-coming film director – only to discover that man himself has slightly different ideas. Along the way, Danny rekindles an old romance, visits a far-off island, and even takes on the Bard – but there’s a hint of darkness to his story too, which never quite fades away.
A lot of Fade’s fun derives from its unexpected swerves: the moments when the action pauses, the lights flick up, and the actors do something entirely unexpected instead. I don’t want to spoil too many surprises, but you will be meeting the voice of Danny’s subconscious – personified (obviously) as a cross between a surf dude and Captain Jack Sparrow. More laughs are provided by a shambling roadie, who thinks he’s cool but quite simply isn’t; and occasional outbreaks of on-stage music further add to the chaotically upbeat mood.
But it’s to DugOut’s great credit that, among all these comic interludes, they manage to keep their grip on a deeply serious plot. We learn soon enough that Danny has secret vulnerabilities – a fact that’s reinforced by a tenderly nervous monologue about lost love, one of many spotlit moments from the note-perfect Will Barwick. As the evening wears on, big-hearted Danny suffers a series of minor agonies, before he finally retreats into a medicated haze and his own fantasy world. And what does a theatre columnist fantasise about? Nothing less than rewriting Hamlet.
Because this is a warm, open, engaging show, and that final shuddering image isn’t the one I want to take away. I want to remember the moments when anything seemed possible: when Danny dared to change what had been written, to take a story that ends in death and despair and decide that, in his hands, it would all turn out OK. I laughed at Fade – laughed a great deal – but it gave me something to believe in too. Let’s trust that it’s possible to change our fate; let’s all rewrite Hamlet.
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