The Fringe is all about first impressions; the opening minutes of a free stand up show, the six word spiel spurted at you by flyerers with an outstretched hand, the carefully chosen pose for the poster that will adorn Edinburgh’s walls for a month. Unfortunately those first impressions aren’t always given the opportunity to shift as much during the festival as in ‘normal’ life. But in Finding Fassbender – written and performed by Lydia Larson (known for her work with the Bunker) and directed by Blythe Stewart – what seems at first to be unambiguous and only questionably significant turns out to be not only charming and witty but a confident and sharp piece of storytelling.
Not only charming and witty but a confident and sharp piece of storytelling.
The play tells the story of Eve, a thirty-one year old woman who boldly decides to leave the comforts of her hometown of Wolverhampton for the lights, smoke and adventure of London – because it’s something you should do apparently. Taking a job at a trendy office that’s so cool they give out free beer at day’s end – hint hint B.B. – and a room in a grimey flat that feels a long way away from home, Eve dips a hesitant toe into the energy of the capital before being coming across a mysterious letter addressed to a famous actor who’s name may or may not rhyme with ‘Cycle Bats Gender’. From here we follow our intrepid heroine on a romantic comedy-esque journey across London to track down the letter’s recipient, providing endless enjoyment as we meet some wonderfully colourful inhabitants of London; particular favourites include a policeman with a penchant for puns and a flower salesman ripping off more than just flower prices.
Eve is thoroughly likeable and brings us quickly onside, making it a pleasure to sit back and enjoy as she relates her hilarious tale. Larson is equals parts charisma and warmth as the genuine Eve and delivers a crisp performance surprisingly energised for so late in the month. Larson is brilliantly complimented by Stewart’s tight and focused direction, keeping the piece fresh and moving forward.
The piece’s resolution lacks full explanation, suggesting a sizeable moment for the character but one perhaps oddly equated to the journey we have just witnessed. We live in a time where stories of female empowerment are more necessary than ever but crushingly Eve’s uplift is kept from being either moving or notable by lacking grounding, proper thought and a fully formed arc – perhaps due to the dilemma of the sixty minute Fringe running time. The other issue with this is that it resurrects and leaves hanging the older question of how important Eve’s story is in actuality.
This said, Finding Fassbender is a very special story made so by its genuineness and honesty. And while it doesn’t quite stick its landing, its more than warmly recommended viewing. The only question is why there isn’t a joke about how ‘Fassbender' sounds like ‘Returntosender’?