- Gareth K Vile
- 9 August 2021
Coming-of-age Fringe tale that is vibrant and busy but with a script that can't quite match its ambition
Despite an energetic pair of performances and a soundtrack that includes banging rave tunes and sweetly elegant Welsh folk song, Lisa Jên Brown's script for Double Drop struggles against its production's limited dramaturgy and the challenges of an outdoors venue. Telling the story of how 1990s rave culture collided with the Eisteddfod for one young woman, it embraces ideas of authenticity, youthful yearning for community and the continued relevance and power of tradition.
Both performers – Brown in a variety of roles and Mirain Haf Roberts as protagonist Esme – throw themselves into the drama, emphasising the vitality of rebellion and the richness of Welsh culture. Despite her singing successes and the invitation to become an honorary bard, Esme resists what she regards as the dull respectability of the Eisteddfod. The script draws clear connections between those illegal raves that Esme adores and the annual celebration of Welsh language in a thoughtful reflection on how joy and community – and perhaps resistance – are their common foundations.
Yet the dramaturgy, possibly best described as 'enhanced storytelling' undermines the emotional affect of this coming-of-age tale. Esme describes her environment, her feelings, her actions to the audience with Roberts only really performing her character in short dialogues with Brown's various roles. These dialogues are inevitably the most engaging moments, as Esme recognises the power of her identity in a mystical conversation, tries to respond to her upset mother or accepts her ordination into the order of bards. Too much is lost in these addresses to the audience and the prosaic descriptions of scenarios while the scale of MultiStory overwhelms some more intimate moments. The music provides a pumping soundtrack and moments of contemplative beauty that the script's production ultimately cannot fulfil.
Double Drop, MultiStory, until Friday 13 August, 4.30pm, £13.