The play Three should have been the perfect vehicle for these Students of the Pauline Quirke Full-Time Academy of Performing Arts. Sadly Harriet Braun’s script somehow didn’t hit the spot for me; rather, it let the young, enthusiastic actors down.
With what should have been a clever device, we are told a series of three different stories of ‘lust, longing, and unrequited love’ – the stuff of every teenage-hood – through a double-narrative: the characters in question and their inner voices.
Added to this, a narrator provided a sort of Greek Chorus, cutting between the three scenarios with his self-interested interjections. Making this ‘character’ gay seemed a little tokenistic, just for the sake of being camp and theatrical in contrast to the more earnest trio of double-characters. I suspect that, if the actor who played this wannabe presenter had been given free rein to improvise, he might have come up with something far less limp.
Nevertheless, this role gave the cast enough time to switch deftly between scenes, which they did without fuss (especially given this was the first of their ten-day run, without any chance for a walk-through) The production was equally un-cluttered too, leaving space for the multiple voices to come through.
This, then, was my main problem: there were too many voices. The part of each ‘inner voice’ seemed so separate from the actual character; it wasn’t easy for the actors to find the right tone. For example, the shy girl, ‘Jo’ had an inner voice far more feisty than seemed appropriate; likewise, the nerdy boy, ‘Jamie’ had an extremely laddish alter-ego.
This made for jarring contrasts, and a script that didn’t give the flow of dialogue that it deserved; nor did it give the young actors the opportunity to find the appropriate ‘motivation’ behind each line – because they were so disparate.
Perhaps the best coupling was that of Caz and her inner voice, especially when she complains about having “an angry voice in my head and it won’t shut up.” To which her inner-voice replies: “Too right, I won’t!”
The delivery isn’t quite slick enough, but it foreshadows what our narrator naïvely describes as a ‘hat-trick of happy endings’ (bless!) as each of the main characters makes their inner voice redundant and takes control of their burgeoning love-life.
If I’m being a bit harsh, this is not a reflection on the actors who had clearly worked hard, and deserved a better script. Sometimes their delivery lacked the projection needed for the dry acoustic, but the overall effect was a warm and enjoyable production, whose ideal target would be an audience of teenage contemporaries, or supportive parents.
You can see Three at PQA Venues @Riddle’s Court until 11th August at 15:30. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com