Fringe Theatre Reviews: Relationship Plays

From a nightmarish retelling of the Friends story to a interview-style two-hander, we look at some of the Edinburgh Fringe theatre tackling the thorny issue of relationships.

Feature by Alice Lannon | 28 Aug 2015

Ross and Rachel [★★★★☆] is a twisted, nightmarish version of Friends and other idealistic romance stories. Molly Vevers performs a one-person duologue as herself and her partner, revealing her own doubts in their relationship whilst he seems very much committed to it. The plot accelerates when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer and she seems to be somewhat relieved. There are many twisted Friends references tied into the plot, which highlight how unsuitable Ross and Rachel actually are for each other, and how ridiculously unrealistic their whole relationship is. The script is very well written and Vevers shines. The final effect is darkly funny, whilst being utterly depressing and leaving a distinct lack of hope for relationships as the fairy tale creations we once dreamed. This is a serious reassessment of romance.  

One Day When We Were Young [★★★☆☆] is hugely cliché yet still rather enjoyable. Visually it is very pleasing, with its vintage theme and many costume changes, and the actors are very convincing as the couple they play. However it loses momentum as it goes towards a rather predictable end. Generally, in spite of the hackneyed storyline, this is a nice tale – perhaps a relaxing break from watching more serious theatre.

Tumbling After [★★★★☆] is sexy, energetic and fun with a deeper message about modern relationships. It depicts the journey of two couples, one on either side of the stage. On a visual level the play is extremely striking with a split stage and upright beds with handles on them that allow the audience a birds eye view of the performers’ seductive acrobatics. RedBellyBlack Theatre Company prove that physical theatre is an effective medium for exploring the twists and turns of romantic relationships, where even emotions can feel very physical. It’s a very well crafted piece, in both story and choreography, dynamic and absorbing theatre.

Islands [★★★☆☆] is a captivating duologue, featuring the lives of a couple who have been together for seven years. It takes a kind of interview format, with each person on a chair on either side of the stage discussing their relationship with an absent presenter. It is a very amusing show, mostly because it makes fun of a certain kind of wealthy London lifestyle that both performers overemphasise for comic effect. However, although it is visually striking it is never explained why the performers are in their underwear. It's light but also forces you to question modern relationships.

Ross and Rachel, Assembly George Square, 'til 31 Aug, 12:30pm (£11)

Tumbling After, SpaceTriplex, til' 29 Aug, 18:25pm (£11/£9)

Islands, Underbelly Cowgate, 12:10pm, 'til 30 Aug (£10/£15)

One Day When We Were Young, Assembly George Square, 13:45 'til 31 Aug (£10)