No-One is Coming to Save You, Pleasance Bunker Two, Review

Submitted by Jon Cross on Thu, 9 Aug '18 6.42pm
Edinburgh Festival review
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
This Noise
Nathan Ellis (writer)
Agatha Elwes, Rudolphe Mdlongwa
Running time

One woman, one man. Two stories told in the third person.

The storytellers take it in turns to place the two characters in their separate worlds. A woman stares intently at a glass on a table. A man watches a TV show dubbed into a foreign language. There are meticulous descriptions of the physical world. The delivery is measured, monotone, hypnotic even. There is dreamlike imagery, but what is real and what imagined? They both have jobs to do, but the work has no meaning. The woman sits at her desk, observing the world and observing herself in minute detail. The man goes to a conference and listens to himself in horror. Beneath a thin façade of everyday civility, both seethe with murderous fantasies. There is a growing sense of existential dread, a feeling that something terrible is about to happen.

We know from the outset that these two stories must at some point merge into one, and we wait for something – anything – to happen that will bring these two people together. And eventually, there seems to be a transformative event in the real world, which gets them at least talking to each other, even though we cannot now hear what they are saying.

The piece would work very well – perhaps a lot better – as a radio drama, with the disembodiment of the voices adding to the strange air of detachment from reality.As it is, there is not very much the performers can do on stage to add to the storytelling; any movement becomes merely a change of position for the origin of the voice. An odd little dance sequence in the middle provides a mystifying change of pace.

The closing scene is surprisingly upbeat – a somewhat incongruous celebration of mundane activities, perhaps those little everyday actions that only have any meaning when they are shared.

At the end you are left wondering whether it would make more sense if you saw it for a second time, paid a bit more attention, listened more carefully, but chances are it would still remain pretty enigmatic. Even so, it is an engaging and intriguing piece.

August 1-27 12:30