The Edinburgh Fringe is an absolute mish-mash of every theatrical genre. There’s something for everyone, and that’s why it’s such a unique festival. Hot Coals Theatre certainly know this, and have brought their production Finders Keepers to the eclectic festival, at ZOO Venues’ Aviary space. Created and devised by Jo Sargeant and Clare-Louise English, with the objective of being accessible to all audience members, including those hard of hearing, I looked forward to seeing the duo in the Aviary space.
Finders Keepers is inspired by the story of Moses. Sargeant and English play two scrapyard scavengers, the former being the daughter and the latter being the father in the Pharaoh and Sons’ partnership. They’re both two mucky characters that go about the same routine everyday; swatting flies, scavenging newspapers and scouring for metal. But when Sargeant’s character, who secretly longs to be a mother, discovers a baby left by a mysterious woman, she and her father tentatively step up to the plate and throw themselves into the trying trials of parenthood.
Easily mistaken for a kids’ show judging by its poster, this play is just as much for adults as it is for younger audiences. Sargeant and English gleefully capture the grotesque outer essences of two characters, both of which are firmly rooted in a world that casually saunters on a one-way road with no variety. Their highly physical representations are clear to the audience, which more than makes up for the deliberate lack of dialogue. The two also both puppeteer the baby they find very well, further engaging the audience and investing them in the narrative and emotional journey they’re embarking on.
Buffeting these performances is a well-considered scenography, which comes together as a result of design choices that mesh together very nicely. A simple set design, constructed of random bits and bobs like clock faces and old scraps of wood perfectly represents a makeshift home within the junkyard, while the lighting effectively helped to enhance the mood and atmosphere of the piece.
Although it took a little bit of time at the start of the show for Hot Coals to ignite their fire, once they did, the piece became quite a heartwarming little piece of theatre. While the pair do effectively harness the power of theatrical storytelling to engage their audience, there are a couple of times where I thought this could be pushed further. For instance, their physicalities could have been slightly stronger, and the sense of play throughout the piece a little bit higher.
But these are only minor niggles, which I’m sure will be ironed out during the show’s run and as the duo’s confidence increases. Finders Keepers is a gem; it’s warm, touching and highly enjoyable.
Finders Keepers is playing at the The Aviary, ZOO until 29 August. For more information and tickets, see the Zoo Festival theatre website.