Trois Pour Cinq is the first formal offering from the new theatrical duo Merlot Merlot, and displays the fruits of their writing and performing talents. Maria Figgins and Adam Courting have both written and perform this collection of three short plays, for the Camden Fringe, which all explore power, manipulation and loneliness. Although the narratives are surreal and the settings vague, within just 45 minutes the audience are given a whistle-stop shot of a performance displaying great truth and vitality.
Figgins and Courting make a good pair, with great physical presence on the stage. Figgins has trained as a dancer and this is apparent as transforms her body into that of a ten- year- old girl in Fosters, a play studying the effects a foster mother’s abuse of her children, and then witnessing how this affects their development into adulthood. A particularly powerful image representing the clash of past and future, childhood and adulthood is that of Figgins cradling Courting and feeding him from a baby bottle full of Fosters beer.
No Trailers explores our age-old obsession with using film as escapism. The entire narrative is carried out through communicating in the language of popular culture, and only using film quotes and tag lines for self- expression. They become stereotypes of the ‘male hero’ and ‘female heroine’ and by adopting these roles give their lives drive, meaning and purpose. It is only at the end do we discover that that the pair are homeless and only been using these canonical strap-lines to give their daily routine a sense of purpose, familiarity and order. Figgins’s writing is extremely intelligent, and uses the intention behind each famous movie line to develop layered emotional dialogue.
The final play in the trio, Night Rises in the Dark, is inspired by Macbeth and as it is written by Courting, has a slightly different quality to the other two. As No Trailers has an enormous amount of emotional intelligence behind it’s strap-lines, the language of Night Rises in the Dark has an amazing lyrical quality and is more traditionally poetic. This final play is a more visual piece and is based around the single, strong image of a lady holding a lantern and a man with his hands and t- shirt spattered in blood. Courting’s murderer figure commences to have an emotional breakdown in lieu of his actions, and here proves his abilities as an extremely strong performer.
Speaking to this duo afterwards in the bar, they both display a lot of promise. This show at the Camden Head was just a selection of the many fresh ideas they have written down and are beginning to work on. They are both vibrant performers who are open to suggestion, criticism and inspiration. My one criticism would be that all three stories are extremely dark; it would have been great to see the duo also flex their comedy muscles for a touch of light relief. However, this self-sufficient new writing duo (named, of course, after their favourite wine) is one to watch out for in the future.
Trois Pour Cinq is running at the Camden Head until 11 August. For more information and tickets, please visit the Camden Head’s website.