views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Clingfilm
The Water Rats
31st July 2018

★★★☆☆

Publicity image for Clingfilm

Photography provided by HiddenViewz

Adulting is hard. In the days of BuzzFeed and listicles, this statement is often jokingly thrown around but deep down we all know there is some truth to it. In Clingfilm, a foursome are trying to make their way in the world, facing up to the realities of their present and dealing with the ghosts of their past. Despite the mildly terrifying publicity photo, the production doesn't include a gruesome clingfilm-related murder as I had presumed. However, while the characters' anguish doesn't quite lead to such extreme outcomes, there is still plenty of betrayal, grief and anger to get your attention.

Melissa (Anna Thornley) is a successful young lawyer. Always the clever one in the group, she enjoys correcting people on their grammar, uses 'impressive' language, and appears to be a bit of a perfectionist. However, life on the inside is not quite as perfect as it seems. Despite her very evident irritation at her boyfriend Daniel (Matt Rolls) failing to secure paid employment, you get the impression that she is equally as troubled by her own life choices and whether they will ultimately lead to fulfilment.

As for Daniel, he's an artist. At least, he says he is. In reality, he struggles for inspiration and the need to create that perfect masterpiece. In their different ways, perfectionism seems to be something the couple share. His inability to create that piece, however, leads him to procrastinate with the TV while Melissa is out earning the money. This is not something she appreciates.

The supporting players in this troubled relationship are Melissa's best friend from uni, Rachel (Olivia Caw), and Daniel's brother Jacob (Elliot O’Donnel). Each of them are dealing with their own problems. Rachel spends more time with Melissa and Daniel than her own husband, while Jacob has turned up with a mission that involves getting Daniel to confront and forgive the hurt from his past. All in all, it's a pretty troubled foursome.

The protagonists are very relatable, particularly as someone in a similar 'few years out of uni' age bracket. The lines written by Olugbeminiyi Bammodu are often subtle yet clever. There is also plenty of humour and downright childish behaviour, as who truly grows up? (Fancy throwing ketchup, anyone?) I also found the performances engaging, though perhaps voice was stronger than expression at times, and quite quickly became embroiled in all the individual trials and tribulations.

The set is simple, with a couple of tables, some chairs and a bit of bric-a-brac (though Daniel would never forgive me for calling his beloved bowl that - you'll have to watch the show to find out why). When characters are not involved in a scene, they sit in a row at the edge of the stage, looking on at the events. As expected in the fringe, the relative lack of visual aids requires some suspension of disbelief but the writing and performances make this pretty easy to do.

Due to my own failures at adulting, I went to the production somewhat preoccupied and in a bad mood. I'm not sure the content could be described as particularly spirit-raising given the protagonists' unhappiness, but I nonetheless left a much more cheerful person, which says something for the high quality of the show. A quick glimpse at the audience suggested that others were in agreement, which is always satisfying as an anxious perfectionist reviewer myself. I am looking forward to more writing and direction from Bammodu - perhaps next time with even more complex backstories and ideas.

Clingfilm opened on 30th July and runs until 1st August 2018 at the Water Rats, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Kings Cross (Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria, Circle, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City)



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