Signal Failure @ Underbelly, Cowgate
Sasha Ellen’s Signal Failure is a boy meets girl tale that finds beauty in the lonely lives of London’s commuters. The fact that the lion’s share of its action takes place in underground train carriages gives it a refreshing feel, even if the story itself is somewhat thin.
The main struggle in Signal Failure is a straightforward case of mistaken intentions, and the drawn out drama of its resolution (through a single phone call) seems strained. Sasha Ellen’s actors are at their best when they explain the rules of people watching on the London Underground with obsessive precision, get unashamedly steamy under their bulldog-print duvet covers, or point-blank refuse to take salsa lessons. As their story grows darker, their performances become less convincing.
What seems to be a recurring theme in this year’s Fringe productions is a predilection for monologues, even when there is more than one actor on the stage. Signal Failure gets half way through the story before its two characters interact. Until then, they tell themselves or their phones what they are doing and how they feel. The decision is not an odd one when most people in the audience can probably go through half the day without hearing their own voices too. We exist in lonely times, and Sasha Ellen manages to acknowledge this fact and turn in into a zeitgeisty comedy.