In ecology, an ‘edge effect’ is a contact point between two habitats, characterised by an increase in biodiversity. This concept is the inspiration behind Pentmond and Co.’s Fringe debut of the same name, where five actors from from Gordon College, U.S.A. explore the tensions in four interpersonal relationships.
The cast have considerable potential
While this a clever idea, more could have been done to tease out the nuances of this provoking metaphor. If ‘in-between’ sites in nature have greater biodiversity, what are human relationships – or clashes in personalities – fertile ground for? This question always hangs suspended above the play, but is rarely given the deep probing it deserves. From an abandoned satchel to the primordial-turned-robotic dance segment at the start of the play, images fraught with meaning risk being brushed off as artistic pretensions as they are not given time to develop and seem convincing.
Elements of the play – an airport scene; teenagers on the verge of a romantic relationship; a mother giving birth – seem to have been chosen because they represent thresholds. But at the moment the show feels less like an organic whole than a collection of pieces grouped under a common theme. As a result, scenes accumulate layer upon layer but do not always fruitfully collide to yield new insights or reach a satisfying climax.
Even though one or two actors have the tendency to overact or come across as too earnest, it is evident that the cast have considerable potential – unfortunately often channeled in the wrong directions as a result of flaws in the script. The dialogue, for instance, is full of cringe-worthy cliches and could do with more subtlety.
But for all its shortcomings, the play, as its title suggests, may be a precursor to greater things. I look forward to seeing more mature and polished acting and writing from these very promising thespians in the years to come.