Cancer Time is a special piece of theatre. The title does little to suggest the true nature of the show, which is essentially a character study of two young women in a Welsh call centre who form a very unlikely friendship during their cigarette breaks. Iola (Alex Bull) is in fact the only one who smokes, finding it comforting that her habit will guarantee her a death by cancer, her fidgeting and jabbering clearly requiring soothing in some form. Her newfound friend is Mared (Emily Rees), whose less than positive outlook on life provides a welcome antidote to Iola’s incessant babbling.
Everything from set to lighting and costumes to props is pared down to the bare minimum, the set consisting of office chairs and identical glittery boxes. These are opened as the play progresses and are shown to contain the fate of the characters within them. This minimalism serves to highlight the exceedingly high quality of acting from the two actors. The characters are so carefully developed and sharply delineated that the audience begins to feel as comfortable as if they were with old friends, capable of anticipating the way in which each will react. Stories are told that are easy to relate to and the play bumbles along happily until a tragedy besets one of the girls and the plot turns rather more serious and sinister.
The latter scenes are heart-rending and touching as Mared’s sheer pain is evident, while Iola’s discomfort at trying to be the ‘friend’ that she has slowly developed into causes increasing strain. The comedic moments decrease rapidly, but the audience, though small in this case, were completely captivated until the closing moments.
A wonderfully constructed and well executed piece of theatre. A wee walk down the Royal Mile away from the Fringe hub, but well worth the visit.