A student drama society putting on self-written absurdism at the Fringe could have ended up being a bit too amateur, but LUDS have just about pulled it off.
This piece of original writing from writer and director David Jones, tells the story of an unsuspecting citizen who receives a severed finger in the morning post and is arrested on suspicion of a tenuously connected crime. To make matters worse, the only lawyer to hand is a clown whose sole advice is to plead insanity.
Charlotte Parsons and Geraint Rhys Williams as Officer Tripp and Officer Fielding are closely reminiscent of the Guards from Kafka’s The Trial, with their love of bureaucracy and talk of “superiors”. Their robotic mannerisms work well, particularly in contrast to Angela Hekir’s clowning lawyer, although they do drag the pace a little at times. Hekir’s performance occasionally errs into the overly-exaggerated, but overall her presence on stage is strong and provides some necessary brightness to the show.
A few transitioning moments feel a little clumsy and it’s hard to determine whether the occasional lagging feeling is due to the play’s absurdist style or an attribute of the performance itself. Similarly, the repetition in the script so characteristic of the genre gets a little tiresome at points.
Traffic Jam is hardly an original idea, but Liverpool University Drama Society do it well. Given the nigh-on impossibility of doing Beckett well at the Fringe, they are filling something of an absurdist hole in the market. A student drama society putting on self-written absurdism at the Fringe could have ended up being a bit too amateur, but LUDS have just about pulled it off. There’s plenty of surrealist humour in there, six generally solid performances and a healthy dose of existentialist angst. It’s not especially boundary pushing and is unlikely to pull huge audiences, but it’s a good example of its genre and that’s all it’s really trying to be.