Edinburgh is a hard town to shine in theatrically. Its difficult enough to convince potential audience to come see your show as a professional adult actor, but try doing it as a wide-eyed teenager. Indeed, the younger companies often have to work twice as hard to earn the respect of their fellow fringe-goers. This is not to say that it is an impossible task. Many companies, such as The Red Chair Players and Feltonfleet@TheFringe, have taken the challenge head on and come out on top year after year. While I admire their tenacity, the still very green cast of The Nina Variations has quite a bit to learn.
The Nina Variations is inspired by, none other than, Chekhovs The Seagull and offers 42 scenes which follow Ninas return to Treplev. All the women portray Nina while the men all play the forlorn Treplev. The actors weave in and out of scenes constantly, creating a rather abstract and deconstructed approach to the staging. It is a dramatic and challenging piece for even the most seasoned actors to pull off successfully, and this young cast certainly struggles.
From start to finish, it is impossible to ignore the amateur quality. All the pains of theatrical youth are apparent. The show is riddled with lines being recited as if they are questions, awkward pauses, and reactions that appear before the line that is being reacted to is even spoken. As a result, the show feels longer than it actually is and is difficult to sit through. It is clear that this particular play is a bit too ambitious for this fresh-faced cast, and ultimately we are forced to watch boys and girls filling the roles of men and women. The students are not untalented, but rather, seem overwhelmed by the material. Ultimately, I would like to see Rams2Scotland return with something a little more age appropriate. Then well be able to see if they can truly hold their own in Edinburgh.
Fritzie reviewed the Edinburgh preview of the show in New York at 59e59