An orange tree cascades from the ceiling, screeching cat sounds punctuate the theatre’s silence and a family gathers for their mother’s memorial. This is the slightly absurdist world of Some Big Some Bang, a place where women give birth during dinner parties and with couples so dysfunctional you wonder how they ever got together.
There are some interesting issues at play here, particularly given the debate surrounding genetically modified children as well as food and plants. We see some lovely symbolism, such as the ‘ugly’ baby represented by rose petals wrapped in a sheet that cascade towards the stage, and the vine-like oranges that reach the ceiling. Everything other than that is slightly reminiscent of a 70s sitcom, but more surrealist. There are even Brechtian elements, but they’re littered sparsely among the script, so it seems apt to either include them or leave them out. The result is that we get something that doesn’t appear to quite know what it is yet.
Despite all this, there’s no doubt that Some Big Some Bang is incredibly well written. The language is evocative and the scenes flow with beautiful fluidity; we barely notice the hour passing. So much so that I felt I needed longer to fully grasp what points were really being made here. It was over in a flash before we even had time to comprehend what was happening, or what was being said between the lines.
Some Big Some Bang is set in a world of beauty and extreme perfectionism, but it all just seems distinctly ugly. Eleanor laments her supposed physical ugliness, Anya is alluringly but destructively provocative, and Tom is slightly misogynistic and arrogant. Bespectacled Will is the most touchingly human, though even then he drowns under his wife’s wildness. Perhaps the point here is that ugly is the by-product of this obsessive need for perfection. This in itself is a fascinating concept, but could’ve been presented with more clarity. The lines appear to blur between the beautiful and the ugly.
Some Big Some Bang is playing at Underbelly Cowgate (venue 61) until 30 August. For more information, visit the Fringe website.