Saturday, 18 August 2012

Four by Four - Camden Fringe review

Written by: JB (@JoshPBrown)

Etcetera Theatre (Camden Fringe), London

Four by Four does what it says on the tin. It is four half hour shows by four different writers across four nights of bite size drama at the Etcetera Theatre. Produced by KUDOS (Kingston University Drama on Stage) in association with EVE Theatre Company, each show exhibits two scripts a day, so if you want to see all four shows make sure you’re around for two days – unfortunately I was only there for one. Nevertheless, B.I.B by Graham Follett and Sew it Out Loud by Imelda Topping were pleasant snippets of theatre superbly directed by EVE’s Jennifer Matthews. 

There was no obvious connection between the two plays, nor did either play claim to make some profound cultural, political or social statement. Instead they both served as short, light entertainment in their own right – perfect with a cool glass of cider on a hot summers afternoon. 

Follett’s script allows plenty of scope for interpretation but seems to hold a particular focus with Jenny (Faye Thomas) and her relationships with family, friends and lovers. There are fine performances throughout, but Thomas inevitably draws most of the spotlight as she puts in a solid performance with an engaging stubborn reluctance to admit Jenny’s lonesome solidarity. Other noticeable performances come from Becca Rudd who injects the piece with energy allowing her presence to dominate the stage as the overbearing and, at times, uncaring mother. Xanthe King also delivers a reasonably sound performance as Wendy the Australian lodger, but has a tendency to irritate by overplaying the already overt comedy within the character.    
Whilst Sew it Out Loud is a well put together script it relies more heavily upon the director and the actors to recognise its entertainment value. Lexie (Xanthe King), a hard core Women’s Institute member, attempts to coerce Nina (Anna Maloney) and Alice (Becca Rudd) into the W.I, however the piece just becomes stuck in long conversations about campaigns and politics without really making a point – such are the difficulties of short show times.  Here King more than makes up for her earlier performance with a faultless portrayal of Lexie the forceful representative from the women’s institute.  She injects the character with pomposity and her delightful interactions with Maloney make for hilarious moments across a fetching and tastefully decorated set.  

Matthews drags these two pieces of new writing into the spotlight. Top notch performances and Daniel Storey’s perfect precision in the tech box allow the team to conjure entertaining and engaging theatre which is ideal for the Camden Fringe.

This production has finished its run. 

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