On the Edge of Falling is an attempt to internalize a vulnerable marriage. The story sheds light on how the wife, Karen, feels unappreciated by her husband, Tom. The first scene introduces us to a seemingly normal couple that is getting prepared for a party, while their daughter is nervous for her date. The plot starts to unfold with the presence of Richard, who addresses his suspicion toward the state of Karen and Tom’s marriage. Karen is quick to take insult to this, but only after some personal reflection does the audience realize that she craves the attention that Richard is giving her. Perhaps it is a sign that her marriage with Tom isn’t going as smoothly as the audience had originally thought. Fast-forward to the next morning; Tom is delighted about how the party went while Karen continues to ponder what Richard said to her. A week later, Tom is excited for a weekend getaway trip with his wife and coworker while Karen is upset that Tom has neglected their anniversary. Karen, feeling that she is being driven off the edge, makes a snap decision to exact some revenge on her husband. She tells Tom that she has a date on Friday and that they will not be able to go on the trip. Karen goes to Richard’s flat to cheat on her husband; but Richard once again addresses his suspicions of Karen’s intentions; thinking that she only wanted revenge for Tom’s petty ignorance such as “forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning” or “failing to notice a new hair-do”. After kissing Richard, Karen then dedicates a soliloquy to portray her guilt saying that perhaps she does not deserve Tom’s love anymore. After Karen writes a letter and informs Tom of her mistake with Richard, the two get into an argument, then end on an abrupt note that indicates Tom might be open to giving the relationship a chance.
While the idea of the On the Edge of Falling is provoking, it is underdeveloped. The script limits the significance that each character can contribute. For example, the character of Eliza, the daughter, makes little impact on the plot. There could be more attention paid to Eliza’s relationship with Mark to draw a parallel to the relationship of her parents. The character of Karen, as the heart of the play, shows little consistency. Particularly, during her soliloquy on stage, Karen is aware that she made a mistake cheating on Tom. Yet, the next day, she blames Tom partly for what she did. Regarding Tom, his character goes through little change in terms of emotions. The script limits the deeper range of rage that he could express after finding out about his wife’s affair. It also seems unnatural that he is too easily forgives Karen in the end. As the audience was brought right into the middle of the relationship, there were a lot of questions unanswered about the story’s background. While Karen mentions briefly that she had to make sacrifices for the marriage, the audience isn’t informed of what they were.
Nonetheless, these shortcomings do not prevent the plot from stimulating compelling questions. The character of Richard raises thoughts such as: is it worth getting upset over the little things, or is it the accumulation of those little tweaks that damage the relationship? As Karen cheats on Tom to get revenge, she raises the point of whether Tom was partially to blame, and whether her action itself is approvable. The story gives an angle to a relationship that is not excluded to anybody.
In terms of performance, it is undeniable that the actors have dedicated time and effort into studying their characters. Given the age of the actors, they have done an excellent job internalizing the maturity and hardship of an older age that their roles require. Pim Ungphakorn took Karen’s ambivalent feelings true to her heart and convinces the audience of the sorrowful marriage that she has been through. Clement Yeung turned the character of Tom into an amiable character who showed genuine love to Karen despite Tom’s many defects. Victor Pilard executed his neutral character of Richard excellently through his gestures and his eye contact with other characters. Eliza, played by Marcella Denby, being the lovely daughter that she was, should have been given more stage time to bring out her character. There were little issues with enunciation every now and then but they didn’t take away from absolutely outstanding performances.
Regarding stage management, the crew did an exquisite job. The scene at the party with the string of lights in the back and the candles on the ground is one of the most beautiful that I have seen at the Barron. Attention to detail in different scenes such as the blankets on the couch and the family portrait make the settings more lively and realistic. The music choices in- between the scenes were entertaining and mood-engaging. However, I would have appreciated it if more efforts had been put into costume and makeup to bring out the age difference between characters and their own personalities.
Overall, considering that the play was only 40-minute long, On the Edge of Falling had potential for more elaboration.