Uncontrollably fast, unstoppably manic, characters changing as quickly as the mood of someone who is falling apart at the seams. There is a rush of confusion as the empty black space is filled by full-motion caricatures running as if trying to escape the slippery vortex of mid-thirties monotony. As exhausted as I was trying to keep up with the conveyor belt of narratives and characters there is a solid heart to cling onto, the only-too-familiar question, “is this it?”.
Writer Robert Farquhar takes this thought out of the abstract, meaning-of-life philosophies and cements it firmly into the reality of the endless, mind-jumble of hope that there’s more to life, hope that you won’t be stuck in the grey rut of the norm forever. Farquhar clearly has a pretty level relationship with the actors Matt Rutter and Tim Lynskey because the play seems more devised than it does sturdy and plotted out by biro. So much so that it seems to have gone straight from the wild improvisation of devising to the stage, without much restructuring or editing in between.
The beginning is strong as a man stands before a hot shot producer and, melting down, explains that all ideas have been done, there’s nothing new to think. The narrative rambles through Callum’s life (Matt Rutter): his boring job, dull love life, and his inability to fully come to terms with his father’s death, all causing him to runaway via leaving dos and train stations into what can only be described as a Jeremy Kyle version of the Mad Hatter’s tea party, and finally into a drug-fuelled, party marathon with a gravel-voiced stranger with a pocket full of pills. Characters are picked and mixed from insincere call centre staff to the chatterbox sidekick Brian O’Really (played by Tim Lynskey). O’Really is intended to lean towards the bad penny side of annoying, his voice is scratchy and loud. Lynskey’s manic multi-role play tiptoes the tightrope between energetic brilliance and overbearing, running the risk of overshadowing the whole production.
Neither actor has a single moment to catch their breath or mop their brow they power through characters, accents and genders like there’s no tomorrow. As impressive as it is, it ends up being too much: a wearing trip that could do more by exhibiting less. A little nip and tuck around the edges would give the audience time to digest the action, laugh at the jokes, and be well and truly entertained.
The Art of Falling Apart plays Pleasance Courtyard until 25 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets see the Edinburgh Fringe website.