Trying to recreate the British music festival environment in a small Edinburgh theatre cannot be easy, but Signature Picture's
As an immersive and entertaining piece of theatre, Festivus does a good job.
As far as staging is concerned, Festivus is pretty much perfect. The set is a festival campsite pitched in phenomenal detail, with turf covering the stage and rubbish strewn all over the ground. This production really focuses on how to immerse us into the festival atmosphere. Throughout the show we can hear loud party music blasting from the stages and lighting is used brilliantly to transport us from the campsite to the main stage. All of these elements combine to recreate the essence of a festival brilliantly.
Before the show starts, four characters get ready for a heavy night of partying as we take our seats. We soon meet the youngsters whose journey we follow through the night: Tom, Laura, Nathan and Danielle. At the start, each character is incredibly likeable and the actors all do a good job of delivering a very naturalistic and believable portrayal of their given parts. Jamie O'Neill gives a particularly memorable performance as Tom, charming us all with his cool exterior at the start, but convincingly switching to an arrogant and angry party-goer by the end.
Soon after the group splits up, however, the narrative of Festivus begins to lose its substance and become a little predictable. The show addresses 'the emotional extremes of this hedonistic environment' and, for the best part of the show, it certainly does. But after watching four people at their emotional 'extremes' for twenty minutes, you begin to wish that the narrative would take them somewhere a little more surprising.
Danielle's monologue at the end of the production was performed very well by Rosie Porter, who captured the right tone of inner contemplation without straying into melodrama. Yet when Danielle begins her speech, the wonderful naturalism of the production disappeared and it broke the marvellous illusion that Festivus had worked so hard to build.
As an immersive and entertaining piece of theatre, Festivus does a good job. Towards the end, though, the plot does begin to drag and the show begins to seem a little more style over substance. Signature Pictures have built a wonderful concept, but more of a solid story, instead of a series of emotionally charged outbursts, would make this show outstanding.