The Bench *** (The Scotsman)
EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL, JURY'S INN, VENUE 260
TWO strangers - James and Frank - happen upon each other on a park bench every lunchtime for over a week: one is an uptight executive consumed by his work and marital woes, the other a seemingly harmless jack-the-lad keen to pass the time and impart advice.
This is pared down, beautifully played theatre and writer David Hendon does a wonderful job, mixing in humour, pathos and despair.
Like Beckett before him, he succinctly and often with heartbreaking accuracy reveals the absurdity of human existence: the desperate search for meaning, the individual isolation and, finally, the total breakdown in communication.
Both actors are impressive in this slick, smart show but it is David Anton, as Frank, who steals each line, so beautifully timed are his comedic turns and his verbose intellectualisms.
Never cheapened by clichés, this is a well-imagined examination of society at its best and its worst. Annoying then that, short of 30 minutes, it could have been so much more.
Today, 21, 23 and 25 August. Today 10.10pm