Theatre review: In Tents And Purposes

Sam (Alys Metcalf) and Libby (Roxy Dunn) are new graduates, letting their hair down at a music festival in the summer of 2010 before they embark on the rest of their lives.

In Tents and Purposes at the Assembly George Square
In Tents and Purposes at the Assembly George Square

Star rating: ****

Venue: Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17)

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In between the naked dancing and the fake funerals, they fit in a visit to a fortune-teller, who predicts career success and true love for Sam – and for Libby, a life of poverty and loneliness.

Following them through the next decade, we see Sam become an international ­success as a chef while Libby languishes in a rented flat with her as-yet-unfinished novel.

Would it have made any ­difference if the fortunes had been delivered the other way round? Or does the key lie in personality, given that happy-go-lucky Sam always ignored her fortune, while the more fatalistic Libby held great store by it?

All this is explored in Dunn’s dynamic script, full of quick-fire dialogue and ­beautifully observed humour. Both Metcalf (part of the Olivier Award-winning cast of The Play That Goes Wrong) and Dunn (a series regular on Danny Boyle’s Babylon) have near-perfect comic timing and almost endless reserves of cleverness and likeability.

In “the meta sections” they step out of character and ­create an equally entertaining parallel narrative about their friendship and how the play was created.

Should one wish to contemplate serious questions, there are plenty here about how much we make our own luck and the extent to which who we are pre-determines what our fate will be. But one can also simply enjoy the quality of the writing and performances which make this play one of the most enjoyable theatrical experiences I’ve encountered so far this year at the Fringe.

Until 29 August