Assembly Roxy – until 6 February 2016
Love is reduced to a set of rules in Beam Theatre’s fascinating and timely take on Madhuri Shekar’s quirky script, at the Roxy for a three-night stint.
Set on a contemporary American campus, In Love and Warcraft finds Evie as queen of her guild in online role-playing game Warcraft, and a Cyrano-style writer of letters in real life – alongside studying for her English major.
Steaming into her fourth year at college, it seems to Evie that she can do no wrong. Her Warcraft guild are racing away on every level possible and her letter writing service – which extends to Facebook posts, texts and bluetooth assisted live feeds – is 100% successful in rejuvenating failed romances.
In Sarah-Louise Cairney’s hugely capable hands, Evie exudes that sense external self-confidence which stops just short of being conceited – largely because of the clear layer of tension hidden behind her carapace.
Cairney convinces that Evie’s various relationships seem solid to her, despite their substance being clearly built on shaky ground to the viewer.
Indeed, Adam Daniels has little to do as dorkish boyfriend Ryan, who has Evie’s back in Warcraft but won’t ever see her in real life. Her room mate Kitty’s disparaging remarks about him ring true. As they also do for Adrian McDonald’s Raul – a sympathetic client who decides that he won’t need her services after all when their eyes meet across a cup of coffee one morning.
Georgina Grisold has plenty of fun as Kitty – a rapacious man-eater whose own love life never goes beyond sex. Commitment and love are not her thing. And although breaking up is just the foreplay for a great night of make-up rumpy pumpy, Grisold uses the space given her to develop Kitty as a strong character.
Sarah-Louise Cairney (Evie) and Adrian McDonald (Raul). Photo: Andrew Perry
Aside from Shekar’s interesting use of online life, which director Andra Roston deals with admirably, this is most fascinating in her creation of two characters which express two sides of the same misguided coin.
Evie’s belief that relationships can be reduced to a formula of language is mirrored by Kitty’s belief that they can be expressed as a set of sexual stimuli.
Such reductionism might not be as extreme as Daryush Valizadeh’s hateful manuals for picking up women, but it serves the same end by tearing all humanity out of human relationships.
And without that humanity, Raul and Evie’s relationship will not be able to evolve beyond first base, unless they can find some kind of space to explore their own real emotions.
Abbye Eva. Photo: Andrew Perry
Roston’s direction ensures that this is brought out well. Her use of Abbey Eva and Hamish Hawk, who play a succession of minor characters is, for the most part, well done. There are a few moments where a cartoonish character is burdened with comedic overplaying, but there are more successful characters than not.
She doesn’t quite get over the bitty nature of the script which dodges quick fire between scenes, never lingering long in one. The use of robotic movements by the characters during scene changes is certainly pertinent, but it doesn’t help create a smooth or particularly speedy transition.
Fortunately Dave Keay’s sound design and between-scene song choice covers much of that. Enrique Poves’ precise lighting ensures that the black-box set doesn’t become too much of a burden to the action, while Lindsay Corr has a strong enough eye for detail in the costume department to ensure that the passage of time is kept clear.
The is only Beam Theatre’s second outing, but it shows a company which has a maturity about it. It ambitions might be high, but it doesn’t over stretch itself in a production that is both satisfying and relevant.
Running time 1 hour 50 minutes (including one interval)
Assembly Roxy, 2 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh EH8 9SU
Thursday 4 – Saturday 6 February 2016
Tickets and details from Beam Theatre’s website: www.beamtheatre.com/