Finer Noble Gasses SKINNYFEST

Article by Hazel Smith | 14 Aug 2006
Finer Noble Gasses is the latest outing and Edinburgh Festival debut for young, New York based writer Adam Rapp. Rapp has enjoyed growing praise from US critics for his Off-Broadway produced plays, including 2000's Nocturne and Red Light Winter, which received two OBIE awards and was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize; as well as for his first film, Winter Passing, released earlier this year.

Describing itself as 'an existential rock & roll comedy', Finer Noble Gases observes the lives of four aging band-mates who have withdrawn from the hipster scene of New York's Lower East Side to the squalid solace of their grubby East Village apartment. Having failed in getting famous, the friends subsist on a diet of nondescript amphetamines and tediously shallow American TV-culture. Drifting through constant drug abuse, their newfound and squalid way of life finds easy analogy in the simple gases of the plays title.

The simple plot centres around the attempted reacquisition of a television set after the quartet's own is broken in a last-gasp attempt to confront reality. This half-baked pursuit is enacted with varying levels of participation; the stoner camaraderie of Lynch, Chase and Staples being measured against the comatose situation of Speed. With its themes drawn from Rapp's real-life experiences as a writer, musician and filmmaker living in New York City.

The play builds towards a performance by Rapp's own band, featuring the playwright on bass. This genre-hopping element offers a rare moment of chemistry within a play that grapples with the conflicting forces of talent and inertia.

The Bongo Club, 2-28, 19.30, £10/£9/£8. Barrow Street Productions.