Fade[author-post-rating] (4/5 Stars)

Danny, a journalist, is sent to interview an acclaimed director and his new leading lady. Tides of fortune being as they are, the actress turns out to be Imogen, an old flame of his that he has never quite managed to forget. With all the ingredients for a great play in place, the cast of this piece of new writing more than deliver. Fade is a finely tuned comedy that had me laughing and thinking. It’s always wonderful to witness a group of young and excellent performers showcasing their potential, but something about Fade feels especially fresh and accomplished.

Nina Shenkman glows with star quality as Imogen, whose thespian, luxurious character is as likeable as it is hilarious, although more a construction of male attraction than a viable human being. Her effect on Danny is palpable, off-set by the uncanny weirdness of the director and the comedy of Perch, the stoner assistant. There’s plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and a great chemistry between the whole cast. Regular musical interludes add a Lynchian sense of disassociation that emphasises Danny’s gradually unveiled metal health problems. How reliable is the narrative? Are we witnessing it through Danny’s off-kilter view of the world? Fade questions the way that we perceive each other, morphing from light social satire into a stark, if crudely drawn, depiction of shattered realities and the frailty of the self.

Alexander Owen’s clever script uses fast-paced humour to save the play from a simple descent into noir melodrama. At the play’s climax, however, it is only melodrama on show. While the twist is successful and sophisticated in its execution, the final moments of the play betray the wonderful subtlety of the narrative in its overblown violence. It is passable and does not cancel out the great aspects of Fade, but does show up the company’s youthfulness in an otherwise exceptional and credible production. Although lacking the guts and raw relevance of some other shows I’ve seen at the Fringe this year, Fade is a very entertaining play of uncanny charm and laugh out loud moments.

Fade is playing at Bedlam Theatre until 24 August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.