The power of truly character driven theatre never ceases to amaze me. Theatre of this kind can be some of the most poignant we see on stage, and it’s mesmerising to be part of an audience that truly does, for a brief moment, become wrapped up in the world of the play. This was my experience at Anna Jeary’s Small Hours, playing at C Nova this Edinburgh Fringe.
Small Hours is a short play, running under forty five minutes, which focuses on the moment when two nameless best friends, played by Talor Hanson and Jasmine Price, take their seats for their regular late night chats. Curled up in two armchairs in their pyjamas, the two discuss the highs and lows of life, reflect on what it means to love, and how to move through loss.
What follows is a beautiful, well-plotted sequence of conversations that lead the audience to a message: that life really is too short, and a world built around friendship and love transcends any limitations thought possible. These two performers and writer/director Jeary deserve the utmost credit for bringing such a tale to life. Jeary’s writing is clear, honest and characterful, though it could be a tad sharper in places.
Hanson and Price, who regularly swap roles according to a public vote on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, give very considered portrayals of Jeary’s characters. They colour their performances with enough light and shade to give their characters distinctive voices and personalities, while also allowing us to relate to their uncanny resemblance to the people in our own lives. The play is also paced very well, taking the time to build up a close relationship between the two characters and their listeners to maximise the effect of Jeary’s text.
The staging is also refreshingly simple, with only two armchairs onstage. This draws our focus towards the two characters, while giving the production a more timeless feel. We are compelled to listen to this story, which really does resonate within all of us. There’s only a few lighting changes to mark the shifts in conversations; while this acts as a recurring motif, these changes could also be sharper and better defined, which would help in clarifying Jeary’s message for the audience.
But that is only a slight issue with the production. Small Hours really is a special little gem that you can’t afford to miss this Edinburgh Fringe. It contains a sophisticated emotional palette beneath its seemingly simple premise, and will stir your emotions with its charm, character and delicate sensitivity.
Small Hours is playing at C Nova until August 29.