Ella Hickson’s new play for Grid Iron Theatre Company has considerable ambition, taking us into some pretty challenging territory. If this particular vehicle doesn’t arrive at what looks like a destination, it isn’t for want of trying.
Kate Bane is an up-and-coming writer, visiting her crotchety father in the company of her boyfriend, Albin. Bane pere, a teacher of creative writing, had lapsed into (or perhaps always preferred) a bourgeois lifestyle with bohemian outbursts. The arrival of his estranged wife (Kate’s mother) and the onset of a snowstorm settle us in for home truths being told, although the resulting sound and fury ultimately seems to resolve very little.
This is partly due to the ambitions mentioned above. Hickson asks hard questions, but seems either unable or unwilling to offer her audience anything close to answers.
The questions are indeed hard ones, however, as Hickson invites us to contemplate the sense of failure we can experience when we realise the present moment may be as good as it gets and the remainder of our existence a slow freewheel doon the brae.
If we can’t be good, Hickson enquires; can we be true, at least to ourselves? If our past is perhaps necessarily compartmentalised – and a salute here to Becky Minto for a set design that proves both an efficient solution to a ‘proppy’ play and a metaphor for the way we live our lives, especially now – but if this segregation of our complex selves is how we cope with our own complexities, what’s the cost of inner peace?
All of Hickson’s characters cope as best they may with the unavoidable experience of disappointment, and given the characters and the situation Hickson places them in, it’s perhaps unreasonable to expect that they can do no more than retire from the experience a little more battered but still confused.
What felt almost digressions on the predicament of the writer and the tyranny of biological determinism didn’t aid our focus on the other questions Hickson posed, but she is undoubtedly a writer who still has much to say and most certainly deserves a wider audience, a statement borne out by her earlier work Precious Little Talent (reviewed elsewhere on this site).
Congratulations to Grid Iron for bringing this writer back to Edinburgh and providing an excellent cast and production team for a play which is never less than thought provoking.
Til 26 October, 8pm
£11.50 - £17.50