Communication is key and sometimes it may even be the key to the heart. That is what Lissa, Siôn and Josh are discovering in Alun Saunders’ play Fow. As part of Edinburgh Festival, the online play produced by Deaf & Fabulous / Taking Flight in co-production with Theatrau Sir Gar and Welfare Ystradgynlais is streamed on Summerhall’s website.
Lissa is late for her lecture, Siôn is on the train to Wolverhampton and Josh has just reached a new level in his video game. That is where we meet the three protagonists for the first time. Each one of them sits in their own little window on my screen. Lissa’s world is blue, Siôn’s is purple and Josh’s is tinted orange. And even though their stories seem worlds apart in the beginning they slowly come together. In unison they agree on a few things and disagree on others – Siôn in Welsh, Lissa in BSL and Josh in English. What appears to be a random triplet of characters finds its meaning as the story picks up pace.
Siôn is on his way to surprise his online girlfriend, Amy. They have never met and he is as excited as can be. However, things don’t go to plan as he finds his girlfriend in bed with another guy. One thing leads to another and Siôn encounters Amy’s charming but thick-headed flatmate Lissa while on the run from the “scene of the crime”. The encounter leads to a date, to another date, to another one. And what is Josh doing? Josh seeks shelter in his little sister’s student house share after having been kicked out by his wife Lek. A couple of nights at their mum’s place was enough for him and Lissa’s floor now appears to be the favoured option. Over the course of the one-and-a-half hour long play I grow more and more attached to these three quirky characters and find myself pleasantly surprised with the story’s happy end.
Aside from its heartfelt and worldly storyline, Fow is clever in the way it is designed. Even though in their own little world, all three characters interact with each other across the screen and this makes their dialogue feel entirely natural. The play is entirely captioned and BSL interpreted and even though it deals with the idea of communication problems and miscommunications, it shows how important it is to talk about things (and how often we take it for granted). Cardboard signs and props are used in certain scenarios to play out the poignant moments – Lissa and Siôn “randomly” meeting on Wolverhampton’s high street, Josh’s wife Lek, Amy’s Instagramer aspirations (and many more) are presented in sketchy black-and-while cartoon drawings. They breathe life into the story and give it character while visualising the relationship between Lissa, Siôn and Josh.
Fow, directed by Elise Davison, is a sweet tale of communication, language and love. The three actors deliver a charming and genuine performance and invite us into their relationship with each other without difficulty. Teaching about how our differences can often unite us, Fow inherits a lovely message that makes the length of it worthwhile.
Fow is playing online at the Summerhall at Edinburgh Fringe until 29 August 2021. For more information and tickets visit Summerhall’s website.