Frozen @ theSpace on North Bridge
Out Of Town Productions bring to Edinburgh Fringe a moving portrayal of three lives interlinked by the abduction and murder of ten-year-old Rhona in Frozen, a play by Bryony Lavery.
Nancy, Rhona’s mother, is played wonderfully by Rachel Burnham. Burnham brings warmth to the mother who never totally falls apart on stage yet conveys emotion in other ways, such as through expression, gesture, tone and words. She gets on with life, doing the washing, being exasperated with her other whirlwind of a daughter, and yet her anger and sorrow is palpable.
Brad St. Ledger is excellent as child-killer Ralph: his mannerisms convey so much, regardless of what he may be saying. Brad manages to combine a mentally deficient killer but also a very damaged man who raises sympathy from the audience – it's a disconcerting experience to sympathise with a killer of children.
Ralph’s psychiatrist Agnetha, played by Lily Penfold, is battling demons of her own and has strong opinions on the criminal mind. There is a separation of her professional self and her personal self, created by the strength of her acting and certain lighting/script techniques. However, the character of Agnetha requires a little more depth to attain the levels of Nancy and Ralph.
The decision to only have the three characters on stage (with the exception of a non-speaking prison guard) is an intelligent one: the story does not get muddied by too many on-stage presences creating confusion and possibly detracting from the emotions. Instead two or three characters are heard from the sidelines to push forward the plot and add necessary information to the mix. The three characters have their own spaces on stage and only interact with each other when in scenes together, yet there is no confusion; the invisible boundaries remain in place throughout with the help of tight direction.
Frozen is a brilliant portrayal of the wake of devastation a situation like this creates and of the emotions felt by all parties. It leaves an audience wondering how they would react in Nancy’s place. Would they forgive?
Frozen, theSpace on North Bridge, until Aug 23, 10.40am, £7 (£5) http://www.outoftowners.co.uk