Funny, witty and with serious undertones is what first comes to mind to describe The Stolen Inches. The play lasts for an about an hour and is based on a short man who feels his parents have hindered him from becoming the man he thinks he should be. What made this play so effective is its simplicity, within the simplicity the complexity could be found. I am a firm believer in simplicity in writing and that’s what allowed me to enjoy the play.
After reading the online synopsis I thought the play was too simple to be true… Many times you can read a simple synopsis only to watch a play that is strangely complicated and hard to follow. Theatre definitely has to evolve, new stories need to be told and old ones need to be told in new ways, but not at expense of a straightforward storyline. If theatre makers (by this I mean writers, directors, theatre companies and all involved in the storytelling process in theatre) seek to have an audience engaged in the story of a play then simplicity is the key. Simplicity does not have to mean being patronising, boring or stereotypical; it can mean being relatable, clear and to the point.
In the attempt for theatre makers to be noticed in a world where only a few dominate there can be comprises on story. I think it’s great to defy the norms, go crazy with lights and special effects and have characters interact in new ways but, in the midst of it all, there should be clear intentions and a story to follow.
The foundation of good theatre is a good story and The Stolen Inches had that. I’d define a story as the ‘telling of a thing’. There are many things to be said and many ways they can be said so the word ‘story’ doesn’t need to be placed in a box. I just think it is important that theatre makers are clear on what they are saying and how they are relaying that to their audiences. Writer Cordelia O’Neil captured this wonderfully in this play, along with the direction from Danny Wainwright and great performances from the actors.
It would be great see what the Edinburgh Fringe performance would look like and whether any changes would make a significant difference to the play. I expect there may be changes to the set, and costume perhaps, but would hope the story remains exactly the same. If you are taking the pilgrimage to the festival then you should definitely take a trip to the C nova in Victoria Street and watch The Stolen Inches.
The Stolen Inches played at the Carousel Theatre on 31 July. It will also run from 5-26 August at C nova at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website. Photo by The Small Things Theatre Company.