Following a troubled Glaswegian man with psychotic tendencies, Jelly Beans tries to delve into the what makes people do terrible things. But in reality it feels more like an explanation of a man doing a terrible thing. This one man show has flashes of tenderness and a great performance but is let down by a somewhat juvenile script and strange directorial decisions.
Two large buckets, and a young man. The piece starts brightly. Childhood stories are told with insight – we hear of how he was once a beautiful child and incredibly charismatic, all told with a hint of regret. It’s tender stuff which really gets you on board with the character’s journey. Eventually, he goes into a supermarket and sees an overweight man on a scooter buying unhealthy food. After sharing his unrequested views on the man’s eating habits, he is told to fuck off and is spat at. He then chases the fat man down an ally and beats him to death. It is all very melodramatic and seemingly without much reason. There hasn’t been much indication that this would happen in the story, and it all seems a bit unnecessarily brutal.
And then there is all the sex. The long boring monologues about wanking. It may have been shocking and exciting in the 70s, but the audience is well passed being impressed with the bravery of talking about male ejaculation. There seemed to be as much dialogue about wanking as there was about anything else. Follow this with long descriptions of him having sex and it all seems very try hard.
The large buckets are used sparingly during the play, and as they are the only thing on stage apart from
a chair, it seems like a strange choice to have them there and not use them.The whole piece seemed like half thought through ideas that were not delivered with the end product in mind. There are lovely moments in this, and Adam Harley gives a sensitive and gripping performance, but the story wasn’t well crafted, and in a one person show, it’s all about the story.
Jelly Beans is playing at Pleasance Courtyard until August 28. For more information and tickets, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/jelly-beans