Nel

Nel is a charming little love letter to cinema that follows foley artist, Nel, on her misadventures with her insufferable aunt, demanding boss and a hopeful screenwriter. For context, Nel is a single woman who lives with her pets and is perfectly content to focus on her career so, of course, she must be miserable and ends up reinventing herself to appease her overbearing friends and family. That’s the basic story but the really interesting thing is the style the company of four use to bring it to life.

It’s hard not to love the socially inept Nel and the fantastical worlds she creates

Using an enchanting mixture of live music, foley and puppetry the company transform Nel’s banal day-to-day life into a kind of live film. It’s not surprising that the company have chosen to use foley (the art of creating cinematic sound effects with everyday objects) as it lends itself to rendering the everyday into something extraordinary on a limited budget, cleverly mirroring the story of Nel reinventing herself.

It’s a wonderful experience seeing the construction and artificiality of foley whilst also hearing the end result of screeching tyres, windows smashing and many more but at times the show becomes slightly too concerned with the style rather than the substance. There are a couple of musical interludes from the cast members that are perfectly enjoyable and showcases some of their multiple talents but unfortunately they don’t add anything to the plot or characterization and actually ends up slowing down the overall pace.

If you have any interest in seeing a masterclass in onstage foley then Scratchworks Theatre Company are not one to miss, also they’ve created one of the best and funniest onstage credit rolls at the Fringe. Ultimately it’s hard not to love the socially inept Nel and the fantastical worlds she creates but all the whimsy and humour isn’t quite enough to make up for the lack of thematic clarity and shaky dramatic structure.

Reviews by Liam Rees

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

'A love song to imagination' (Plymouth Herald). Meet Nel: a foley artist. She brings films to life through sound. In her world, epic fight scenes are a symphony of snapping celery and cracking rhubarb. Nel is good at this stuff – it's the rest of her life that's a disaster. She needs help and maybe a change of shoes. A beautifully crafted mix of live music, 'masterly onstage foley' (BritishTheatreGuide.info) and physical comedy, Nel's touching story explores identity, friendship and what it means to be an introvert. 'Nel will knock your socks off' ***** (InterMissionBristol.co.uk). ***** (StageTalkMagazine.com).

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