There is one day of the Fringe to go and unwatched plays are slipping through my fingers like grains of sand. Luiza Minghella’s “All My Life Long” has a single performance left at C Royale. I wrote about this venue at the start of the Fringe and, despite being repeatedly tempted by interesting-looking plays, this is the first time that I have been back. Its ancestor, C Nova, figured prominently in previous Tychy@ the Fringes, but I cannot power-walk from my desk in Bruntsfield to a seat in C Royale within half an hour. I guess that my Fringe coverage will always tilt towards the south.
Sweet Nothings Theatre is a somewhat shady youth company from London. With little information about the actors online, there is an intriguing discrepancy between their youth and their story’s avid accounts of marital infidelity. This play indeed ordains strength out of the mouths of babes. Padraic (Sky Yang) and Gloria (Heloise Spring) apparently hook up every year on the 2nd March, when spring is springing. It is not remotely plausible that two lovers would ever fall into such a ritual – indeed, I am reminded of that classic joke scenario in which the miserable old married couple only ever have sex on the man’s birthday. In one example that I can remember, the man mentions this to an appalled colleague and, when the colleague splutters “why do you look so cheerful?,” the reply is: “today’s the day.” Padriac and Gloria, however, both have other partners.
Our annual ration is naturally brief and we are allowed the merest glance at each year’s anxieties and tensions. These are worn lightly, rather like jewellery, with a splash of meth addiction here and some infertility problems there. Eventually, the couple contemplate commitment. Annoyingly, I had soon lost count of the years and by the end of the play I was so confused that I could not tell whether the characters were in their early thirties or late fifties.
Perhaps the actors are so young because this production is set upon achieving the curious, distinctive melancholy that comes from seeing teenaged actors playing depleted middle-aged versions of their characters. It is a high compliment to say that “All My Life Long” works relatively smoothly, because its plot cannot really be staged without somewhere encountering an incongruity. The choice is either to have teens playing middle-aged characters or middle-aged actors playing teenagers. The latter is clearly more of a stretch and so Sweet Nothings plump for the sweetness. Some beautiful spectral dancing in between the play’s acts provides a haunting reminder of the youth that is being steadily lost.
A rival reviewer, Udita Banerjee for Fringe Guru, has spotted that “All My Life Long” bears a strong resemblance to David Nicholls’ 2009 novel One Day. I duly investigated this lead and became disconcerted by the similarity between the two plots. Is “All My Life Long” an adaptation that couldn’t get permission from Nicholls and so tenaciously ploughed on under a new title? Or is it all, as sometimes occurs between like-minded writers, simply a coincidence? It might be safer if this production credited Nicholls in some way.