Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Heartlands, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Pollock
It SOUNDS like the premise for a ropey Hollywood romantic comedy, that a famous Hollywood actress and a humanitarian charity boss with a celebrity profile find their paths continually crossing over the years, drawing them closer together and yet deeper into what we might expect will be a happily ever after romance.
Except Charlie Souter and Mari Klee’s plans to do good together, and for her to promote a new brand of perfume sold in aid of charity, are derailed when it’s discovered – in very public fashion, by the press and the Twittersphere – that the perfume is decidedly environmentally unfriendly.
So this smart and compelling play, written by Dave Fargnoli for the Edinburgh-based Urban Fox Theatre Company and director Amy Gilmartin, manages to be a bit of everything, both expected and unexpected.
Leads Clare Ross and Joe Johnson fail to convince only in that their characters should be, by the nature of their professions, imbued with a world-beating confidence, and we don’t get to see this. But then, neither character is glimpsed within the play in the context of what they do; it’s the private, tender moments they share together which allow them to let their hair down and see an honesty in one another.
So it’s slightly over-complicated and belief requires a little suspension, but it’s all things in the context of what it wants to be – a romantic comedy, yes, to a certain extent, yet it’s also a much broader and often sparklingly written examination of the contemporary deadening of individuality which online consensus creates, the pitfalls women must navigate through that (“whoever said the left was soft never got rape threats from Friends of the f***ing Whales,” spits Mari at one point), and the macho need to compete, even when trying to do good.
Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18), run ended
Published in The Scotsman on 29 August 2015
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