DugOut Theatre return to Edinburgh's Bedlam after their 2012 smash-hit Inheritance Blues with a new show that is sure to delight their fans and win them an army of new ones.
I confess I was possibly a bit slow on the uptake with Inheritance Blues (which I saw in a longer version at ISDF ‘12). I let its strange mixture of sombre story and random comedy perplex me too much. Fade is also an unprecedented melange of fall-off-your-seat funny and a pretty depressing plot. It's the sort of show that doesn't seem to exist anywhere except on the Fringe, but here it feels like almost the perfect show for the end of the day.
The basic plot: depressed theatre blogger Danny (Will Barwick) sees his unrequited teenage dream Imogen (Nina Shenkman) playing Ophelia in the West End, so he contrives to interview her so they can meet again. Except Imogen is now living with a successful film director, Andrew (Tom Black), who has cast her in his latest movie.
Around this skeleton of Alexander Owen's new play, the DugOut cast have thrown their special blend of music and comedy. It's impossible to know what idea came from where, and whether in the original draft Danny was always followed around by "Chippers" (Luke Murphy) – a wild-eyed camp, cockney gypsy musician occupying the exact mid-ground between Captain Jack Sparrow, Mick Jagger, and one of those mental animated sidekicks in a Pixar film. Indeed, Murphy would come damn near to stealing the show it it weren't for Ed Smith's equally hilarious slacker techie, Perch.
Groping for a gripe, it seems fair to say that the ending in its present form might be a little sudden and to note that there's still a slight jolt to the transitions between comic and tragic. But really, this is such an utterly charming piece of work that such observations feel wholly misplaced. Fade is one of those pleasures whose imperfections are precisely what make it so perfect.
- Andrew Haydon
Fade continues at Bedlam Theatre until 24 August