As a child, Sundays always meant a visit to our local church with my family. I spent years listening to the same readings and reciting prayers I couldn’t even remember learning. As an eight-year-old, the sacred philosophy went over my head and it wasn’t until years later that I made up my mind about my relationship with the religion I’d been brought up in.
The decision to remain within or leave a familial religion can often be a long and complicated journey and The Fall attempts to tackle this in just 30 minutes. Although there are moments of thoughtful philosophy, the necessary speed of the script doesn’t allow for the piece to have any overarching clarity or gravity on this.
Written and performed by Sarita Plowman, The Fall examines the moment in which a child begins to understand the deeper, and somewhat darker connotations of her religious upbringing. The writing presents both the childhood voice of innocence and a more reflective adult narration, but within this time frame there is no time to split the narrative voice. With such a short running time, the jumps between the adolescent and adult point of view stops the audience being able to fully connect; just as I become engaged with one narrator, it cuts to a different one. I think the story would be better served being told by one voice – a singular narrator would allow the piece to focus on its core message.
Plowman’s performance has the energy and enthusiasm required in a one woman show but, similarly to the script, the running time can make this energy feel overwhelming. There is scarce moment to truly reflect on the more philosophical questions posed in the script. Also, while the varying characterisation of the child and the adult makes it easy to differentiate, with the child’s high-pitched tone and restless train of thought contrasting with the adult’s more mellow persona, but the choices feel a bit obvious and lacking in sincerity.
The theme of growing up and increasingly questioning and attempting to make sense of big theological questions is always going to raise interesting and unpredictable themes, and within this piece something very intriguing has been created. Yet, in the same way that I wouldn’t expect a child to be able to come to any sort of conclusion on this subject matter in 30 minutes, for this show to execute that within the same time frame would really take a miracle and thus, it falls slightly flat.
The Fall is playing the Applecart Arts Dazed New World Festival until October 16. For more information and tickets, see Applecart Arts’s website.