Free Time Radical

Free Time Radical
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
4 stars ****

BILLED AS “an epic tale of domestic proportions”, this new play from the company who created 2008 Fringe First winner Paperweight takes a familiar genre of lad comedy – the one about the two thirtysomething guys who still want to live like teenagers – and pushes it to a rare and intriguing extreme. Free Time Radical is set in a flat in London, where two men who have met in a pub, both keen on surfing, apparently find themselves trapped by a huge tsunami which has swept away most of Britain.

There’s something uneasy and ironic in this collision between hideous tragedy and trustafarian leisure cult; and the sense of creative, poetic unease continues and builds through a surreal hour, as the two characters – the married one who has waved goodbye to his wife through the sealed windows of their fast-drowning house, the single one who might or might not be gay – divide up their few cans of food, calculate that they can last for nine days, and embark on an intriguing see-saw between laddish banter, and abject tragic failure to deal with the world beyond the flat.

In the end, the bubble of illusion bursts, and the married one – played with terrific flair by Tom Frankland, with Sebastien Lawson equally persuasive as his sidekick – heads off home. And despite several false endings, leading to a long-drawn-out final 15 minutes, there’s something deep going on in a play, co-written by the company with director Jamie Wood, that can gaze so mercilessly at the truth that many grown men, in some moods, would rather see the world swept away by a tidal wave, than go home from the pub, love their wives, and shoulder their responsibility for the next generation.

Joyce McMillan
Until 28 August
p. 264


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