The programme notes for Don Quijote claims that the work-in-progress piece “breaks free of the leash and exuberantly questions our freedom”. Really? Apart from some beautiful shadow puppetry at the beginning, Tom Frankland’s sub-standard bastardisation of Cervantes’ classic tale seemed to comprise nothing more than a few disparate concepts, some webcam video, and a bunch of blokes messing about with them.
With some of the content of the Pulse Fringe Festival, it’s possible to witness a few embryonic ideas that might, with the right stimulus, emerge butterfly-like to be fully-formed performance pieces – if not plays – that will have artistic integrity and a commercial appeal. Sadly, for Don Quijote, it’s difficult to see it heading anywhere but the great Hacienda in the Sky. Pure festival tat with no life beyond.
Tom Wainwright’s and Sam Halmarack’s Psychodrama is one of the afore mentioned embryos. Not yet fully fledged – yet not wimping out with the “work-in-progress” tag – Psychodrama is a touching exploration of familial relationships played out by Wainwright and Halmarack, and their alter-egos, John and Patrick.
Anybody who has gone through the real-life experience of psychodrama will pick up familiar notes here, especially the unrelenting role-play that it’s often believed causes more damage than good. Psychodrama mixes comedy and drama to great effect. While the audience participation aspects may be a little less successful and there’s room for a trim here and there, the piece is a solid showcase for their performance and writing talents.