The description of this touching piece of work as advertised in the Fringe guide does not do it justice. On the surface, it seems as if it focuses on the interactions of two people, a subtle and insightful portrayal of what friendship is. Look deeper however and you will discover that it is an investigation into what makes us human, what it means to love and be loved and how the loss of a loved one can impact our lives.
Get along and take part in a beautiful rendition of what it means to live, and what it means to die.
Two characters, which have no names, are seated on comfy chairs throughout the entirety of the piece. On first glance, one would assume that this stage convention could lead to a stasis in the drama. The two actors on stage however have such dynamic and engaging energies that at no point did I find myself willing the pace to pick up, for them to switch up the blocking on stage. It is a testament to the actors that they are able to remain seated and still utterly captivate.
As we follow their journey through fifty minutes, we encounter a world of dirty jokes, feminist issues, love, and tea, amongst much much more. One of the most enlightening aspects of the piece is the manner in which these subjects were handled. With sexism still an ugly and present force in our society, it was utterly exhilarating to witness two “real” women chat casually about topics that the world assumes only men can talk about. For this reason alone, Small Hours is worth viewing.
However, it gets better.
What struck me while watching was the absolute ease at which the actors on stage handled themselves. Jasmine Price and Talor Hanson filled each moment with a subtle yet powerful natural style of acting. They were completely believable and handled the ebb and flow of the plot development effortlessly whilst allowing us to witness the simple idiosyncrasies of real people. It may seem a tad trifle, yet a lot of modern theatre is forced and so fine tuned that it loses all sense of life, of spontaneity. These two actors filled a large space without having to do very little. In my opinion, that is the mark of two professionals working at the top of their game.
Small Hours is truly a beautiful piece of writing. If there was to be constructive criticism, it would lie in the structure of the play. Whilst jumping from one time frame to another is a valuable tool in driving the narrative, at times I found myself asking the question: “what is the point of the story?”. This lends itself to the conclusion that perhaps the length between each time jump could be trimmed and tightened.
It does not however detract from the joy of stepping into a room with two characters and following them on a beautiful and poignant journey, witnessing the shifts in drama and connecting with their journeys as they try to navigate the pitfalls that we will all face in our lives, whether sooner or later.
Fourth Wall have brought a production to C Nova that is easily worth the ticket price. Get along and take part in a beautiful rendition of what it means to live, and what it means to die.