JOYCE MCMILLAN on SYMPHONY at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, for The Scotsman 10.11.14.
3 stars ***
IT’S A FAMILIAR world, the one evoked in this 70-minute gig-cum theatre show by nabokov and Soho Theatre, which appeared briefly at the Traverse over the weekend. It’s the world that often features in Radio 4 comedy, peopled by childlike young adults who are wryly ironic about themselves, and driven by a series of “first world problems” which are not about war, or poverty, or environmental disaster – but rather about the ups and downs of everyday life in a joyless work-driven culture, and the age-old search for love, as the one force that can give meaning to ordinary lives.
So in a Welsh-accented show, performed with great flair and charm by actor-musicians Jack Brown, Liam Gerrard, Iddon Jones and Katie Elin-Salt, we hear three stories by Tom Wells, Ella Hickson and Nick Payne. The first is the tale of young Jonesy, an ill-starred schoolboy with asthma who nevertheless dreams of success on the sports field. The second is Hickson’s Love Song For The People Of London, in which two young folk in the big city encounter one another on a bus, and go their separate ways; the theme is familiar, but there’s some luscious writing here, full of wit and magic. And the third is Payne’s My Thoughts On Leaving You, a slightly tedious failed love story enlivened by the powerful weaving of the band’s rough-edged music into the texture of the narrative. There’s plenty of charm here, and not much substance; but it’s a delightful way to spend an hour, delivered with the kind of energy and skill that should perhaps be seeking a bigger canvas, and more challenging themes.