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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Static, theatre review

Published in Northings

WHEN babies are born, they assume they are at the centre of the universe. It’s only as we mature that we realise ours may not be the only perspective.

Even as late as adolescence, we don’t always have an understanding of cause and effect. We observe something happening and assume we must have played a part in it. The power of the ego makes it hard for us to grasp that events can take place without us, whether they be minor incidents such as friends going off in a sulk, major break-ups such as parents divorcing, or global catastrophes such as aeroplanes dropping out of the sky.

This is the challenge facing Sparky and Siouxsie in Davey Anderson’s teen-friendly play for the ThickSkin company. Played by Brian Vernel and Samantha Foley, these two troublesome and troubled standard-grade pupils have convinced themselves of their ability to influence the world around them, whether through witchcraft or telekinesis. The spells Siouxsie writes in her secret black book have a habit of coming true, while Sparky seems to redirect his ADHD energy into moving objects beyond his physical reach.

The playwright keeps us believing they really might have these gifts, which takes Neil Bettles’ production onto a metaphysical plain, as objects take flight of their own accord and people are mysteriously injured. Doing a similar job are the filmed projections that turn the set – consisting of two banks of school lockers – into all manner of locations, from teen-goth bedroom to precipitous rooftop. For the teenage audience that’s attracted to the show, it must make school seem altogether more exotic than the humdrum place they’re used to.

Indeed, The Static seems to hit the spot with this young audience for its lively 65 minutes. With Pauline Lockhart and Nick Rhys playing the sympathetic and vulnerable figures of authority, Anderson uses the direct-address storytelling technique perfected by David Greig in plays such as Yellow Moon, which keeps the action fluid and theatrical.

Yet for all the fantasy and fun, there’s still something earthbound about this coming-of-age romance. Like a TV script, the story is full of incident but covers relatively little emotional ground, meaning the happy ending is sweet and satisfying but not especially moving.

© Mark Fisher, 2012
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