Good fringe theatre goes one of two ways. Either it’s so out there that it shocks you, or it’s small, personal, and deeply touching. In Feel, the latter approach is delivered in spades.
Feel is the story of two couples: one a seemingly uncomplicated meeting over the years while waiting for delayed trains; the other a failed attempt at a one night stand that lingers into a relationship.
The humour and pathos of the drama comes from the failure of anyone in these relationships to properly communicate with either other or even to understand what they themselves want. All of the characters are damaged in some way, physically and emotionally, but they often aren’t really self-aware enough to realise it. It is through their relationships with each other that they learn more about themselves.
The set is sparse – a bed and a few brightly coloured chairs do a lot of work creating different places, scenes, and scenarios. But through clever use of lighting and the superb acting from the whole cast, you are drawn into the London beyond the set and are given an instinctual understanding of the sense of longing and belonging it invokes.
The play doesn’t use too many tricks. It tells two stories intertwined. They only brush against each other at one point. This is character led drama and the direction reflects that – letting the actors live and breathe the lives of Jamie and Naomi, Nick and Karen. This is not a play that needs enhancing through artifice, because it is designed to be true, to feel true.
Feel is a wonderful play about the emotional brutality of knowing that it is our imperfections that make us. It examines sparingly but cleverly how those imperfections impact on the other people in our lives and the double-edged sword that loving another’s imperfections can be. I came away moved to tears by this simple and beautiful play.