Fresh billboards are up; there are a few souls dotted about who are out cautiously flyering; and some of the bigger venues are already letting in the public. The Edinburgh Fringe might have finally started, but it still resembles more of an encroaching sea mist than the full hurricane making landfall. You feel guilty about being here so early, as though you have been caught exhibiting an unseemly eagerness. I’m at the Pleasance Courtyard this afternoon, which is ready in a rather startled kind of way. I’ve decided upon the preview of This Noise’s “No One Is Coming To Save You.”
This Noise is from London and their play is written by Nathan Ellis. The scene is night and two apparent neighbours (Rudolphe Mdlongwa and Agatha Elwes) are restlessly awake, brooding in their separate apartments. They will encounter each other at dawn, chastely, in the opposite of an aubade. The woman is stuck with a dead-end job; the man is stuck with a dead-end job and a baby. The characters’ consciousnesses are a typical modernist mess; there are moments of enjoyable gore (e.g. a dream of blood filling the woman’s purse and getting in between the coins) but unsatisfyingly little by way of realistic observation. An attempt at comic relief – some vaudeville dancing in Hawaiian shirts – doesn’t particularly help in this latter respect.
Some of the direction is questionable. A TV has been set up behind the performers and they are at times made to compete with the muted footage for our attention. The performers try to involve us in the story by making us write down lines on slips of paper, but the exercise goes nowhere and if the house was full it would soon get bogged down.
Had I seen this show in the middle of the Fringe it would have no doubt seemed frustrating or like a bit of a nuisance, but it is a gentle item to start with because it is not really a play. It often sounds like prose being read out rather than humans telling their stories. Prattling on, the monologues are frequently over-earnest and they occasionally grow querulous. Sometimes you tune out, as though you have agreed to be told a story by two small children and you are still pretending to listen to what they are saying. Even so, the performers are both very charismatic and there is an endearing, babes-in-the-wood affinity between them. I’m not sure that this is necessarily acting, but it adds an energy to the play that is probably not there within the script.