Sitting is part of a series of new plays produced by the BBC Arts and Avalon Debut Initiative. Katherine Parkinson’s piece is effortlessly atmospheric with three beautifully crafted protagonists all sharing the experience of having their portraits painted.
The Dining room in Teviot is a gorgeous performance space with a traditional end on set up that is appropriate for this production. Designer Susana Henry does a fantastic job of dressing the set, and all her choices regarding this and costume are extremely successful, fitting the nuances of the play. It is simplistic and yet still natural, making the space feel very intimate- truly transporting the audience to this artist’s small studio.
The overarching reaction you will have to this play is how truthful it is. Each of Parkinson’s three characters are well rounded and believable – they feel very honest and the kind of people that could be easily recognised within everyday life. Despite being perhaps slightly stereotypical character tropes, they are performed with gorgeous subtly and really successfully connect with the audience. The dialogue within this piece is a stand-out feature. Within the production the audience witnesses one half of a conversation had between the artist and his subject. There is no voice given to the artist, leaving each character with a series of monologues that begin being unrelated to one another until some of the mysteries are revealed at the climax of the play. The script beautifully captures each character. They are well developed with interesting emotional paths that subtly intertwine as the piece goes on.
We are first introduced to Luke, played by James Alexandrou. His character is endearing and oozing with charisma. Alexandrou’s performance is extremely enjoyable, since he has fantastic comic timing and comes across very naturally on stage – a joy to watch. Grace Hogg-Robinson also did a fantastic job. Her character, Cassandra, felt complex and you enjoy the choices that Hogg-Robinson makes when conveying Cassandra’s underlying insecurities. Hogg-Robinson portrays Cassandra’s guarded exterior very truthfully whilst still employing some lovely comedic moments. Mary, beautifully performed by Hayley Jayne Standing, is another very well layered character. She exudes a warmth on stage, and even in her moments of stillness she reflects a lovely energy. All the actors display outstanding naturalism capable of blowing you away. Each character felt so real and well developed.
This play is a wonderful display of human relationships. It encapsulates the strength that our connections hold and is a really compelling story for this year’s Fringe. It is a wonderful piece of new writing with three stunning performances from the cast.
Sitting by Katherine Parkinson
Gilded Balloon Teviot – Dining Room (Venue 14)
Image: Robbie Jack