Reviews Edinburgh Published 5 August 2015

Garden

Pleasance Courtyard ⋄ 5th-31st August 2015

Up above the streets and houses.

Natasha Tripney

I wanted her to kill the pigeon. That probably says more about me than Garden, Lucy Grace’s charming, big-spirited show about isolation in an urban environment.  Grace plays a young woman with a particularly soul-sapping office job. Initially she’s a bit like a slightly more benign version of Mark in Peep Show, making all these little jokes her co-workers don’t get, getting tangled in her imagination. But she’s becoming increasingly detached from things, growing more emotionally involved with her office pot plant than she is with her fellow office drones. One afternoon she liberates the plant and takes it home to her high rise flat – 24 storeys up – where she starts to construct her very own garden, to turn her small apartment into a green cool space in which she can escape from the world.

This is a piece with strong roots. The things it touches on – alienation, atomisation, the suffocating quality of modern urban life, the desperate need people feel for connection – are potent things. It just feels all the time like Grace has at her fingertips something odder and more radical than the piece she’s ended up writing.

There is a strong and growing sense that the character she plays suffers from some form of anxiety and depression, but the piece skirts around that. Grace is a capable performer, with a sweet, endearing manner, which makes the moment when her character’s behaviour crosses from the quirky to the downright strange all the more effective. But the piece waltzes with the surreal without fully embracing it, too often veering towards the twee and whimsical as Grace’s character fills her tiny scrap of flat, perched high above the city, with green; she adopts a pigeon.

There are a lot of lovely moments here and the way stones and vines slowly overtake the stage is nicely done. It’s a small show though it has an awful lot of charm and Grace is never less than watchable. But there were a couple of instances when I felt she might push things further, go deeper and darker, which never quite came to pass.  We stay in stardust and balloons territory. That said, the whole thing was very pleasant – pleasant show at the Pleasance – and in its strongest moments it reminded me of the best bit in that otherwise sub-par Douglas Coupland novel, Shampoo Planet, where the ceiling of an apartment building collapses, filling the air with plants and animals, puncturing the skin of the city: “The world is alive.

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Natasha Tripney

Natasha co-founded Exeunt in 2011 and was editor until 2016. She's now lead critic and reviews editor for The Stage, and has written about theatre and the arts for the Guardian, Time Out, the Independent, Lonely Planet and Tortoise.

Garden Show Info


Written by Lucy Grace

Cast includes Lucy Grace

Link https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/garden#overview

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