I’ll start by being honest – it is incredibly difficult to do sci-fi at the Fringe. The ability to use props and set dressing to create a world is limited when your budget is next to zero and you’re working out of a closed-down church. That said, you have to at least try to create plausibility for the world you’re building, and The Forecast just doesn’t.
Its world is unbelievable, its staging is clunky
This play is about four women who have been purchased to be a set of human garden gnomes for a wealthy family. While much is done to explain how the main characters got in this bizarre situation, little is explained as to why on earth anyone would want human garden gnomes or how they came to be. It’s a consensual career – the women have all signed contracts to be there, but vague references to “our men in government” and the police cracking down on escapees makes it seem as if it isn’t. None of the technology making this work is explained, none of the societal mechanics which make human garden gnomes desirable exist, and while this all could have worked as a metaphor, it was played dead straight. I have a strong ability to suspend disbelief, but you have to give me a helping hand – which this script did not.
It’s a shame too, because the show features some fantastic performances, namely Gaël Le Cornec as Maria, the plucky Brazilian with a heart of gold, and Dami Olukoya as Aramide, a harsh but incredibly intelligent woman from an unnamed country in Africa. The cast as a whole are fantastic at making some of the more contrived plot elements feel emotionally salient; when their own backstories come to the forefront. Their own personal stories are easily the highlight of the hour, as the actors make each moment feel brilliant. That said, they get somewhat lost in the space, as the massive structures designed to represent the garden gnome housings dominate the entirety of the stage. They’re often moved around and used as screens for shadow puppetry, both of which feel clunky and awkward.
I’ll say it again – sci-fi is hard to do at the Fringe, and when done well it can highlight some great performances. But The Forecast doesn’t have the bones to do that – its world is unbelievable, its staging is clunky and its strengths cannot make up for its many weaknesses.