Edinburgh Festival Fringe: “We all love tales of triumph over adversity, don’t we?” asks this smart and exuberantly created new play from The Letter Room, a young company from north-east England.
Northern Stage at Summerhall (Venue 26C)
For young Ray, raising his fists in triumph when he hits the finishing line looks a vanishingly distant prospect – with no experience and a deep depression he’s trying to escape from, he’s entered a Northern Soul dance marathon, a 24-hour dance-off to see who will remain standing by the end. “First find your bounce,” is the desperate last-minute advice he’s given. “This is about endurance, not technique.” It’s sound advice for getting into a dance marathon, or for getting out of bed in the morning when you feel like you can’t.
This charming, busy piece of gig theatre is recommended to those who want to see issues of mental health explored with confidence and maturity, and to anyone who likes a vibrant, lively, imaginative theatrical experience. Led by the tight drumming and boisterous MC-ing of Andrew Bleakley, Stan Hodgson’s Ray is buffeted through the contest. Around him, a quartet of female performers form his backing band the Raylettes, and play the other dancers; like Maria Crocker’s champion Rosa, desperate to win, and Meghan Doyle’s Ida, nervous and unable to move. The music is good and the sense of invention is tangible, although perhaps the sweat-soaked exhaustion of a Northern Soul dancefloor could have been more vividly portrayed.
Until 26 August.Today 11am.