Underbelly, Cowgate

14th August 2013,


A beautifully written script that is only let down by poor tech and a lack of powerful performances. Way Back is an engaging piece of theatre that takes the dark and hard-hitting subject of suicide and without being distasteful is able to create comic elements and thought provoking dialogue.

Set on the cliff top of Beachy Head, East Sussex, Of Vast Bigness’s new production tells the tale of the 13th February when two men are determined at ending their life by jumping to their deaths. Their place of choice is the third most used suicide spot in the world hence Carole (Aynsleigh Turner) a member of the Chaplaincy Squad is on hand as usual to try and coax them back from the edge.

The clever use of language and interesting monologues by writer Daniel Henry Kayes is what really sells this show with a poignant story being told in a quirky and attentive way. However, the acting in the production doesn’t match the same quality as the writing. Turner as Carole is by far the most convincing character with a sheer grit behind her portrayal. However, along with both Matt Lim as Miles and Stephen Bermingham as Randy none of the dialogue is extremely convincing. The gripping, nail-biting moments as the characters are about to jump are lost due to both a lack of deep characterisation and contrived direction.

The technical elements in the performance is another downfall. The lighting moves quickly from person to person but never eloquently and often highlighting areas of the stage that don’t need to be accented. At one point Lim’s body was the only thing lighten up for an entire scene, losing all facial expression. The set was thought through using green fabric to coat the stage with a table covered to create levels but didn’t look too convincing as a cliff top.

This theatrical experience was by no means a forgettable endeavour, with great laughs and emotional moments a plenty. You just can’t help but feel the fantastic script writing is hidden beneath a concoction of tech hiccups and underplayed characters.

Way Back runs until the 25th August at the Underbelly Cowgate.


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Laura Elands

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