After a successful run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Fledgling Theatre reprise their wholesome, surreal, and downright beautiful show They Built It. No One Came. for a UK wide tour.
Written by Callum Cameron, and inspired by a true story, it tells the tale of brothers Tobias (Christopher Neels) and Alexander (Patrick Holt), and their desire to conceive a spiritual commune for those who wish to share their vision of a peaceful, agrarian lifestyle. One problem however: nobody really cares. With a lack of charisma and an incessant inability to form any coherent solid ideology from their pursuits, they are still waiting for their first member. Enter Pablo (Callum Cameron), an anxious young man who has decided he needs a change of scenery, and the brothers couldn’t be happier.
Neels and Holt offer incredible and thoughtful performances of two men struggling to find their places in the world. They seem to relish in the possibilities these characters afford them, and skilfully flesh them out to the fullest extent. The authenticity and depth Cameron instils in brother Pablo creates an endearing and relatable hero for us to hold on to; and with this relationship forged between himself and the audience, the show is able to transcend the emotional limits of comedy and provide moments of startling insight and pathos. Accomplished musical accompaniment from Edoardo Elia (composed by Ben Maier) completes the package.
And while this play is superficially comedic, the success of the performance lies in the underlying tragedy. Neels and Holt betray men desperate for identity, whose lives may appear amusing to the outside eye. But there lies beneath the surface a tangible desperation. “We’ve come too far!” cries Brother Alexander. But there’s no turning back for these two. Cameron’s writing is full of intriguing nuance and believable characterisation. Pablo’s story is in equal measures hilarious, heart-breaking and, most importantly, real. Director Lucy Wray’s development of simple but effective movement and montage injects the playfulness needed for such an absurd script. Coherence is forged from delicious madness, and it’s a joy to behold.
When creating fringe theatre, an important question to ask is always ‘why?’. Many companies tend to forget to answer that particular necessity. Fledgling Theatre have found a unique story worthy of recount and have achieved what they set out to do. Simple production values accompany a simple (but assiduous) set, with the focus squarely on the storytelling. Exactly what Fringe theatre is all about.
Fledgling Theatre have created a gem. At once entertaining and devastating, with bucketfuls of playfulness and stellar acting to match.