Short Captions For Stick Figures – review

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Short Captions For Stick Figures

Dir. Tim Foley

6/10

Short Captions For Stick Figures comes to us from the mind of Tim Foley: St Andrew’s most frequently performed original writer and creator of the Fringe hits Meat and Scene Of The Titans.

In this production, we follow the gradual downfall of Warner, a highly-strung business professional striving to make her way up the corporate ladder in a male-dominated world. In displaying her authority, however, she falls foul of the introverted Bob – in attempting to dig her way out of a sticky situation, Warner only ends up fashioning her own grave.

Foley is gifted with superbly acute attention to detail in his direction. Every movement the actors make, even down to the smallest, most inconsequential hand gesture, has clearly been thought through and deliberately placed in. The seated scenes were particularly well executed and though plentiful, they never became static or repetitive. However I felt that the actors became less conscious of the details when they were on their feet, with a lot of nervous weight shifting and some closed body language. These sections did not seem to receive the same amount of attention from the actors as the rest of the show.

The quality of the acting was more sporadic than the direction. There was something about Jasper Lauderdale’s performance which was difficult to nail down. In the role of Bob, his comic timing is spot on yet, especially in the final section of the play, his performance felt like a reprise of his part in Meat. Unfortunately I felt aware for the whole show that I was watching Jasper and not Bob. This could be down to typecasting, but the character itself seemed sufficiently different from Foley’s other creations to warrant a more original performance. Also the serious elements sometimes got lost in his search for a laugh, but I did laugh and this aspect of his performance was much appreciated.

As Bob’s legal counsel, Alex Levine gives a strong performance throughout and should be commended for this. Not quite up to her usual high standard, however, was Emma Taylor as Warner’s ditsy secretary, Jackie. The character seemed a little unrealised, particularly in contrast to the characterisation of Warner, the leading role and star of the show. Warner was played by Ayanna Coleman, utterly believable and truly inhabiting the character. Particular credit goes to her ability to maintain the high energy of a scene while being shot down by Bob and his counsel.

Tim Foley is quick on his way to becoming something of an institution: his writing and directing are both very strong and he fully deserves the credit he receives. However, this was another play concerning gender identity in a similar vein to Meat and the upcoming Baby Bottle Cosmo. Foley’s material is in danger of stagnating, which would be a shameful waste of his talent.

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