Seeing Double: Figures
High concept two-pronged show is the perfect slice of Fringe fun
This article is from 2012.
Seeing Double: Figures and Vision are a pair of thoroughly modern farces playing out different sides of the same story. While the Pleasance Hut and Baby Grand are rather small venues for the large audiences the shows have been drawing, their proximity means they're the only ones that would work for their slightly barmy set-up.
The two shows depict different aspects of a ramshackle staging of Macbeth – or ‘Macsex’ as the desperate PR girl re-names it when it all goes cockeyed. Vision is the rehearsal side of proceedings while Figures shows the increasingly hysterical production side and the backstage team who are banned by eccentric director-genius Julio Buenaventura from seeing anything of the rehearsals except brief glimpses through a two-way video between the rooms. The cast run from one stage to the other as they’re needed, their departures and arrivals worked seamlessly into the plot.
If the writing, by Alex Woolf and Sadie Spencer, is fresh and kaleidoscopically witty, the prospect of getting the two shows to integrate smoothly must have been intimidating to say the least. There are set points throughout where timings must match, and if one side is too quick the actors have to improvise until the other room is ready. That it works so well is particularly impressive given the actors had just five days to rehearse. Acting from the young cast is uniformly excellent, with a cryingly funny performance from the almost-mumsy-but-slightly-perverted wardrobe mistress Trudy, played by Lettie Thomas.
Interestingly, those who see either of the shows first claim it could stand alone, but express doubts about the other one, which indicates that either can do so – Figures certainly makes sense without seeing Vision.
As you'd expect from most farces, neither say anything hugely profound. Vision is a parody of the prima donna, stage-voiced pretensions of many amateur (and professional) theatre darlings, but Figures is funnier for having a wider target for its jokes. Yes, dildos, a swastika-covered doll and latex appear, but not in a mocking take on modernist theatre, and, somehow, in a completely inoffensive, sweetly exuberant way. ‘It’s avant garde,’ the PR girl whimpers finally, but only as a last ditch attempt to cover up all the disasters. The show is, in effect, a crescendo of chaos in which the cast look like they're having as much fun as the audience. The only problem will be finding a suitable two-roomed venue in which to stage it when the Fringe is over.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 27 Aug, 11.30am, £7--£8 (£6--£7).