Reviews Edinburgh Published 15 August 2011

Snap. Catch. Slam.

Pleasance Courtyard ⋄ 3rd - 29th August 2011

Life-changing moments.

Rosanna Hall

Memento. Photo: Alex Brenner

This triptych of stories about life changing moments is the work of playwright Emma Jowett, the co-writer of Analogue’s Mile End and Beachy Head. It takes the form of three separate vignettes inspired by real life events, each exploring the impact of one pivotal moment on someone’s life.

In the first piece, Snap, a female teacher attacks a pupil after stress and depression push her to breaking point. It’s a powerful monologue which sets the tone for the entire production, allowing the audience to sympathise with the day-to-day struggles of a neurotic and rather lonely woman, and to witness the slow build of emotion and desperation until she finally, well, snaps. As the teacher, Miss Taylor, Shian Denovan gives a compelling performance, nervy and hesitant but increasingly agitated until finally she is wide-eyed with alarm, intense but believable.

The second story, Catch, is exhilarating in a very different way. Inspired by a recent photograph of a baby being held from a burning building, the dramatic story touches on issues of social class and racial divisions within a community whilst also exploring the nature of a heroic act. It’s an engaging piece of writing, well played by Gareth Kieran Jones, whose amiable demeanour and lightness of touch balance out the grimness of the scenario and lend an almost uplifting tone to proceedings.

Ben Caplan’s production concludes with Slam, a piece which rams home the theme of how a single act can change a person’s life irreparably. Teresa Jennings plays a doting mother who is attacked by her violent ex-husband while waiting for her daughter to return from a friend’s house. The tragic repercussions of this act are poignantly underlined as the piece ends with her struggling to cope with permanent damage to her memory.

With impressive performances throughout and captivating writing, the only real quibble with the piece is its pacing. It’s so loaded with incident that it starts to feel unrelenting towards the end, one tragic event bleeding into the next; at times the intensity becomes too much to take, and more emotional variety is perhaps required to provide the audience with some relief. That said, for what is essentially a series of monologues, it’s consistently exciting and engaging and the production benefits from its simple direct-to-the-audience style of performance, which allows the production to live up to its percussive title.

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Rosanna Hall is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Snap. Catch. Slam. Show Info


Directed by Ben Caplan

Written by Emma Jowett

Cast includes Shian Denovan, Gareth Kieran Jones, Teresa Jennings, Hannah Anderson

Link http://www.pleasance.co.uk/

Running Time 1 hr (no interval)

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