Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Garden, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters.
After a stressful appraisal in the office, Lucy (writer-performer Lucy Grace) goes to the park to take her mind off things. It’s relaxing but she mustn’t linger too long. As she recognises, “I’ve probably been lying face down in this flowerbed longer than is socially acceptable…”
Lucy is more closely attuned to the consolations of soil than most of us but there’s something much more universally resonant about her journey, which takes her from a disaffected 9-to-5 lifestyle to the attempted creation of a natural micro-utopia in her 24th-floor south London flat. We might not all keep a handful of earth in our pocket for reassurance but most of us have suspected there must be more to life than the daily grind.
Garden is a solo show in which Lucy recounts this process in an engaging, self-effacing style that belies her unwittingly radical ideas. As an office functionary, she’s more or less invisible to her (well-realised) colleagues. Her attempts at banter founder, as do her gestures towards bringing colour and life into the workplace.
So she turns inwards, focusing on her own domestic space. She paints the ceiling blue, brings a big pot plant home, gets a paddling pool and things start to take on a life of their own. She’s not an eco-warrior motivated by politics. She just wants a life that feels more… natural. If there’s a naivety to the actions of Lucy the character, Grace the artist knows just what she’s doing. Through carefully calibrated storytelling, Garden builds a rounded and efflorescent portrait of a person out of step with their surroundings but in sync with the wider world (well, up to a point). All this is reflected by a set that starts out as drab office decor but begins to bloom. A lovely, quietly revolutionary piece.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 30 August / listings
Main image: Lucy Grace
Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015
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