It has been a long Fringe. Tychy specialises in reviewing student theatre, and it seems at times that I am forever struggling to find interesting new ways to describe what is essentially the same play. “BED,” by James Dunn and the LSE’s Revolving Shed Theatre, is almost supremely generic and it provides a case in point. There is an observational sitcom scenario about, yes, some flatmates who are, yes, at the end of their time at university. Yes, they talk about Game of Thrones and nightclubs with sticky floors. And yes, they are worrying their little heads about dating and their sexual identities.
They used to tell a joke about the philosopher David Hume that when he was writing his History of England, he confined his research to only those books which he could reach from his armchair. With plays such as this, everything that the student writer can observe from his living-room sofa goes into the story.
Rant over. I would altogether prefer “BED” if it was a high-octane adventure about some characters who were trying to discover a lost Aztec temple deep within unexplored jungle. But since it is about a twentysomething who is looking for love on a dating app, we should judge it by how it works on its own terms. All four of the actors are stylish and talented. They are portraying a Less Than Zero social class of bright, pleasantly vacuous young things. Most of this play’s brains are in its dialogue. Long conversations are allowed to run over and pour across bare surfaces, but it is good to sit here and listen to these characters chatting. They are funny and occasionally quite witty.
The central character Eddie is played by Nikhil Parmar. The play is built around a bed because most of Eddie’s home is his bed. He cannot afford to rent a flat with a living-room and his flatmates (Celine Buckens and Morgan Daniels) are constantly in his room, and on his bed, because their own room is too cold. This bed is not only a kitchen-table and a settee, but it is frequently laid out for love. Eddie is an overly earnest and clingy gay man. He has met a far more confident lover called Robin (Joe Shalom) online and he wants Robin for keeps.
“BED” falls somewhat into that trap of having to communicate why a certain character is so beloved. We might generally think that Eddie is far more charming and loveable than the aloof Robin, but perhaps this imbalance gives an edge of realism to Eddie’s foolish yearning. Eddie’s folly is plain – perhaps just a kind of immaturity – and the results are depicted frankly but not unsympathetically. In Parmar’s hands, Eddie is a nicely nuanced character, with the tiniest drop of real tragedy in all of his silliness.
Oh but suddenly a live pterodactyl has burst through the ceiling! Something must have gone awry at the nearby genetic manipulation laboratories! Eddie must save the lives of his friends! There is a sabre-toothed tiger on the loose! My goodness, what an adventure!
Unfortunately, “BED” has now finished its run at Greenside on Infirmary Street.