Fragile @ Zoo

Review by Eric Karoulla | 14 Aug 2014

Birmingham-based Old Joint Stock Theatre company present Fragile at the Fringe. Written by BAFTA-winner Geoff Thompson, this dark, powerful monologue brings child abuse into the spotlight, exploring the life of a man 30 years after the event itself. Through the filter of various religions and world philosophies, he initially tries to come to terms with and explain what has happened to him. The piece perfectly frames the theme with the resulting rage, self-loathing, and disgust of its protagonist, played skilfully by Nigel Francis, as he attempts to unburden himself by trying to talk it out to a tape recorder. 

Although this is a one-man, hour-long piece, it is an excellently portrayed and intelligently elaborate performance that delves into the consequences of being abused, like the inability to trust anybody, the near violent sex fantasies, and the extent to which robbing a child of its innocence can affect the rest of their life. What’s more, the piece sheds light on other issues, like victim shaming and how in this particular instance, lack of attention from ones parents’ can allow abuse to happen, particularly from someone they know.

Francis’s moving, compelling acting is met halfway by Thompson’s angry, almost lyrical, well-paced script that doesn’t drag at all during the one hour and builds to an uncomfortable climax. While not extremely graphic in its description, the themes of Fragile throughout are not to be taken lightly.

Fragile, Zoo (The Monkey House),
Until Aug 25, 9.00p.m.,
Rating: 18+