Fictive Theatre presented its own take on Fiona Evans’ engaging play Scarborough and gave us a rather strong performance. The play tells the story of a 15-year old boy who goes on a romantic weekend away with his – more than 10 years older – teacher in Scarborough. The story as such is pretty engaging, especially as in the very beginning it is not exactly clear that Lauren is Daz’s teacher. When this fact is revealed, our perspective on the couple shifts considerably.
What really makes the specific production to stand out, though, is the company’s choice to perform the same piece twice! Indeed, when the audience returns to the auditorium after the interval, they find out that the actors have swapped roles. The same scene begins again, only this time there is a 15-year-old girl and a 30-year-old teacher, rather than the other way round. Even though the text is followed word-to-word, it is striking to observe the different undertones that each line has when spoken by a man or a woman in each of the two versions.
Both actors manage to portray convincingly the change from the first to the second version of the story. Ava Pickett, in particular, gives an excellent performance both as the teacher and the student. She achieves to portray the nuances between these two very different women, allowing the audience to engage with both characters, but mostly enjoy the different reactions that the 15-year-old girl has compared to the more mature woman. Charlie Tantam also tries to depict interestingly the differences between the 15-year old student of the first version and then the 30-year old teacher, but his transition to the second part is less successful.
Set design by Magdalena Iwanska is minimal and yet effective in highlighting the relationship between the two characters. The whole action revolves around – or rather on – a big double bed which depicts perfectly how this is a relationship which is based only on sex, and which exists on this bed. Rarely do the actors get off the bed; the bed is their whole world. It is only in the end, when the couple is arguing, that the bed becomes – ironically – the barrier between them.
The sound and light design also adds to the effect of intimacy that the audience feels with the two characters, as if we were allowed to creep in their room in Scarborough and take a look at their relationship. The choice to perform it in the round is a rather wise one, as this makes the audience feel even more included and closer to the action. Particularly when we first realize the age gap and the context of this affair, our proximity to the couple’s bed heightens our disturbance for witnessing this electrifying relationship.
Director Simon Paris has realized a strong and intimate production which allows the audience to question the differences in the way the two genders treat their relationships.