Flies (2 stars)

This article is from 2018


A partial study of extreme phobia

The three performers give their all in a production that never capitalises on its basic premise: a pathological fear of flies suggests a deep anxiety that could be exploring social or personal anguish but it becomes a flimsy excuse for scenes in the psychiatric office, a trip to the Antarctic and a spectacular finale featuring cling film as a personal prison.

Without a strong purpose, the structure is a series of admittedly sharp, witty and suave skits. The fly is repositioned as a spiteful, smooth playboy. The soundtrack crashes and booms and builds an atmosphere through fine foley fun. The protagonist convinces as a man at the end of his tether but the basis of his fear is not elucidated, its meaning lost. A brief existential crisis by the psychiatrist, meanwhile, adds nothing but a moment of metatheatrical self consciousness. The cast invest the characters with a charm and complexity through their confident and impressive performances, yet Flies rarely rises above a series of well-made sketches.

There is a charming DIY feel to the dramaturgy and scenography and the songs are fun but the production lacks direction, as if still emerging from a series of workshops about what a fear of flies might appear to be: there is no investigation and the imagination is all in the staging and atmospherics.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug (not 20), 5pm, £12.50–£13.50 (£11–£12.50)


  • 2 stars

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