Jess and Joe Forever (2 stars)

Jess and Joe Forever

credit: David Monteith-Hodge

Wordy but occasionally fun drama about two childhood friends

Around a functional patch of earth, which doubles up as both children's play area and place of burial, posh gushy Jess (Nicola Coughlan) and rural misfit Joe (Rhys Isaac-Jones) have hung out together since they were little. Zoe Cooper's pair of young outsiders (Jess is small, a bit chubby and prone to kookiness; Joe's a lanky lad with a secret) are not what they seem, and as the years pass, the drip-feed of information, with frequent asides to the audience, provides clues to the true identity of Joe.

It's a likeable enough two-hander, but too verbose, all too reliant on the constant ping-pong of chitter-chat from the duo, which squeaks and buzzes like a radio. There is a lot of fun with the quirks of regional accents. However, a lot of Cooper's dialogue is a little prosaic, meditating on small town foibles like narrow-mindedness and a worrying fondness for livestock – even when the somewhat predictable twist occurs. The lapses in time are not always made as clear as they could be. But the young actors give impressive, high-octane performances, and there are some affecting moments to cherish, particularly when they eventually, using baby steps, navigate an awkward path to each other as romantic partners.

Traverse, until 27 Aug (not 14, 21), various times, £19.50 (£14.50).

Jess and Joe Forever

  • 2 stars

Farnham Maltings in association with the Orange Tree Theatre Meet Jess and Joe. They want to tell you their story. Joe is Norfolk born and bred. Jess holidays there with her au pair. They are miles apart even when they stand next to each other. Jess and Joe Forever is a coming of age tale that explores rural life and…

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Thu 24 Aug

Traverse 2

£19.50 (£14.50) / 0131 228 1404

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Fri 25 Aug

Traverse 2

£19.50 (£14.50) / 0131 228 1404

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Sat 26 Aug

Traverse 2

£19.50 (£14.50) / 0131 228 1404

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Sun 27 Aug

Traverse 2

£19.50 (£14.50) / 0131 228 1404

Part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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