Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still (3 stars)

This article is from 2011

Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still

Monologue that’s less than straightforward

'This is true.’ Comedian Phil Nichol implores you to believe in his story midway through this experimental monologue, seemingly trying to inject a moment of clarity into a deliberately fractured and confusing play from Royal Court young writer Dave Florez. Somewhere Beneath It All … wilfully exploits its own harrowing subject matter to play with audience expectations and emotions. In fact it’s hard to know what to believe, if anything, about Nichol’s attempt to portray the character of Kevin: a damaged young man, infatuated with a Lithuanian waitress, struggling with oscillating impulses, some tender, and some violent.

This is a piece that is written for Nichol, and his slightly wobbly route through the script’s tightly crafted wordplay consciously allows room for the person to seep through the character. But Nichol isn’t himself either – he’s a bigoted, larger-than-life version of an already extroverted comic. The play’s beautiful title shows the two ways in which the work can be received: as genuinely compassionate and moving, or as smug and schmaltzy poetic trickery. Nichol’s performance suggests the latter, which makes this a highly interesting but ultimately unfulfilling play.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 662 6552, until 29 Aug (not 15), noon, £9–£10 (£8–£9).

Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still

  • 3 stars

Kevin loves Daina. Phil loves Daina. Phil never said goodbye to either of them. This compelling absurdist monologue about seeking forgiveness in an unrelenting world is performed by Phil Nichol, winner of both The Stage and Edinburgh Comedy awards. A powerful and darkly funny new drama from the brilliant Royal Court young…

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