FOUR, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Review

Michael Lamb and Melissa Folzenlogen in FOUR
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Loch Lyle Music Publishing and Muse Picholine Media in association with Fringe Management
Clé Holly (writer and composer), John Coppola (director)
Tonoccus McClain (Ayodole), Bong Cabrera (Hassim), Melissa Folzenlogen (Kiki), Michael Lamb (Roger), Adam Smith, (Vincent)

Running time

After 30 years, the Renowned String Quartet has sadly lost the founder which has broken their creative spirit. Perhaps Kiki, the new member will bring a fresh dynamic to the company.  A screen above the stage flashes up the timeline through winter 2019, as the quartet sit in front of music stands - which curiously have no scores. 

Hassim, the manager is keen to plan the next season, (and ensure his 20% cut). He reminds them all that he has organised concerts at the UN, Carnegie Hall, weddings and parties.  Roger responds curtly, ‘you would book us for the opening of an envelope’.   The weak plotline plods along with quiet conversations revealing personal relationships as well as a clash of personalities.  Apart from the vivacious Kiki, the men all share a dull monotonous tone of voice, saying or even mumbling the lines with no expression. With names vaguely or never mentioned, the characters are hard to identify.   

This is clearly described as ‘A play with music’ and a promotional audio clip presents a string quartet playing with soulful harmony.  In fact, Kiki and Vincent are the only actors who actually play the violin while Roger and Ayodole just mime the action of a sweeping bow.  Short soundbites of recorded music (from the melodious Ode to Joy to a bizarre snatch of Beyonce’s Single Ladies), provide about six minutes of music throughout the show.  The screen could be used to far better effect, with film extracts of a real quartet performing in a concert hall.  

A film entitled Fugue (2013) tells the story of how a string quartet faces dramatic change when the cellist plans to retire due to serious illness: beautifully acted with integrity, this is an atmospheric, eloquent, elegant work of art.  

FOUR follows a very similar narrative which should create a strong, inspirational play about the life of musicians on and off stage. Unfortunately with such poor casting and script, this production fails on every aspect of theatricality as well as the audience’s expectation of an enriching musical performance and emotional drama.  


2 - 29 August, 2023 @ 12:45 (not 15)

Ticket prices: £ £8 - £11

Age guidance: 12+