REVIEW: A Fool to his Folly
Exceptional in its mediocrity.
Spikher (Dan Blick) and Ketch (Will Hall) are small-time, wandering crooks who misleadingly trick the mayor of a town (Katie Woods) into thinking they can procure her the Philosopher’s Stone.
In order to do so, they convince a drunk girl called Smallways (Ellie Gaunt) that she is living life as a fictional character, and present her to the mayor as the promised elixir of life.This involved rather a great deal of suspension of disbelief for it seemed far-fetched not only that Spikher was able to easily convince Smallways that she was no longer human, but also that she didn’t question the blatantly obvious lies she was being fed.
The plot was confusing and interchanged between periods of slow, irrelevant scenes, which added little to its overall progression, and fast, rushed ones which left the audience struggling to keep up with rapidly unfolding events. The script lacked any sort of humour, which would have provided elements of light relief from characters who were devoid of any likeable or redeeming attributes, whilst the absence of an interval made it difficult to concentrate for the overly long hour and a half running time.
The supporting cast were all great, but the two actors who really shone were Dan (Spikher) and Ellie (Smallways). Dan played the over-the-top, conniving Spikher with enthusiasm that was engaging to watch, whilst Ellie discussing her character’s suicide attempt left the audience in a state of moved poignancy long after she had left the stage. Their chemistry with each other was impressive, and, aided by the clever set design, they used the small Corpus stage incredibly effectively.
The over-arching pitfall of this play, however, was its lack of coherence. The funky neon backdrop looked aesthetically pleasing, but was far too modern to work well with the cast’s tweed costumes, whilst the music and lighting was more suited to a play set in an 80s’ Las Vegas casino than in a small English town. I feel this was a bold, innovative choice, but it ultimately made it difficult to believe anything that was happening on stage was real.
A Fool to His Folly contains interesting ideas regarding living not in the present which is all-too-topical in today’s digital age.
However, the impressive acting was not quite enough to save the confusing plot and incoherent vision and, like Smallways, the audience left questioning whether what they had seen was real life, or was indeed a fragment of their irrational pre-Week 5 imagination.