Bloom sees two soup kitchen volunteers, Robert Scobie and Abraham Parker, tell the true stories of Michael and Anthony, two men who they met whilst working at the Glasgow City Mission. This piece of new writing does well to assert the need for soup kitchens for the poor or homeless, not just for food and warmth, but for someone to tell their story to and for company.
Michael’s tale is one of drug abuse and addiction; Anthony’s of loss. Both subjects of grit and substance, however, whilst the acting is solid and the stories compelling, there are no real moments of passion, which is a shame. Bloom’s redeeming feature however is its prevailing tenderness – the stories are told gently and lovingly.
The show’s understated charm continues into the sound design, which creeps in and out, quietly underscoring moments of drama and then fading away into nothing. It’s subtle but very effective. The two television screens that flicker behind the storytellers with stagnant shots of beaches and terraced flats are a pleasant touch.
Anthony and Michael’s stories are told in alternating chunks but never connect, and it is never clear whether Anthony and Michael are supposed to be talking to each other, or us. They start their stories facing each other, but throughout they address the audience. Neither story has a proper ending; they just seem to fizzle out and there is no real climax to the piece as a whole. However, it is pointed out the unaltered stories as they stand, and whether or not it would have been ethical to embellish the tales for theatre’s sake is up for debate.
A portion of the proceeds from the show will go to Glasgow City Mission, and if Bloom’s aim was to give the unheard a voice, then Vocal Point theatre has succeeded. So it remains a case of good intentions, but it makes for genteel theatre. All in all, a little tame, but a heartwarming show.
Bloom plays at Underbelly Cowgate until 24 August 2014 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets visit the EdFringe website.