Even in Edinburgh, the M25 is at a standstill. But the characters in Knock Knock's
Young, ambitious people trying something out in a run that is long enough to garner some real feedback.
This is twenty-two year old Rosie Revan's first play, but shes already displaying a level of wit and sophistication that is beyond most of her peers. The script ripples with hilarious jokes, including ironic radio adverts that play over scene changes, and the shape of the action is always tightly focussed on its endgame where the disconnected characters force themselves into each others lives. At the same time, the script is problematic. Some of the dialogue is clunky and unsophisticated. The scenes between the closeted lesbian Amy (Revan taking on another role) and the straight friend she has a crush on (Shona Crooks) swerve erratically between soap-opera cliché and outright hyperbole.
Whilst Revan's set-up is innovative, her script offers little to her characters beyond stock ideas that would be more acceptable twenty years ago. She is obviously a young writer finding her voice and it is clear that she is full of potential. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
The other problem is Stephanie Day's direction. Whilst she clearly understands comedy, the entirety of the show is played for laughs. Although this does yield some excellent moments (Joshua Roberts working-class, beat-boxing slob Bill is one of the highlights of the evening) it ultimately robs the audience of the satisfaction of feeling anything for these characters as the play reaches its emotional climax. Also, the characters are so quick to leap to the next plot point that its hard to see them as anything more than constructs.
Both Revan and Day seem to lack faith in their audience, but these are problems that every new writer and director have. I'm sure that their future projects will raise the bar as they continue to develop their craft.
The cast's performances are outstanding and each of them deserves recognition. Crooks and Revan's performances are excellently observed pieces of character acting. Peter Twose and John McGeever are fantastic as working-class roofers whose comic timing is second to none. Joshua Roberts is superb as a gormless and abusive boyfriend, something which Merce Ribot is able to play with to great effect. And Susan Lays stand-out performance as a mother whose negligent husband and nagging children push her over the edge is one of the ballsiest pieces of acting Ive seen this Fringe.
Ultimately, this show is what the Fringe is all about for me. It's not about West-End comedians selling out before the festival begins but about young, ambitious people trying something out in a run that is long enough to garner some real feedback. I fully expect the company to return to the Fringe and succeed admirably.