Review – Warning, Flash Fringe Festival, University of Northampton 3rd Year BA Acting Students, Northampton Playhouse, 31st March 2023

WarningThis is how Warning is described online: “When is enough, enough? A naturalistic piece following a journey of survival. Showcasing themes of illness, euphoria and death, the audience don’t find out what the threat is until the end. This piece focuses on substance abuse and is rated R, audiences are encouraged to take discretion and prioritise their own well-being.”

Elly and Toby have a loving, if occasionally bickering, relationship. When Elly gets frustrated at Toby’s addiction to watching the news, she searches online for the truth behind some of the news stories – but when she finds out something sensational, her phone dies – and then all her history is lost. This happens again and again. The next time it happens, the phone gets red hot and gives them a shock. Convinced that the government are after them and confined to the one room, their siege mentality steadily grows until one day Toby is no longer to be found. Elly is devastated; and it’s only then that we find out the truth.

This is a curious piece in many ways. As an idea for a story, it’s very inventive and extremely cleverly structured. It has a real twist in its tail and I for one had no idea how it would resolve itself – and it’s a perfect resolution that ties up all the odd threads that emerge over the hour. However, I must say that most of the conversations between the two characters, though well written in themselves and very well performed, felt aimless and unengaging, to the extent that quite a lot of the play was sadly rather boring to watch. It felt very introverted and lacked that magic sense of “drama”. It would probably work much better as, say, a short story.

George Pavey is excellent as the occasionally grumpy Toby, but I thought Jess Eddy was superb as Elly. Word perfect throughout, and bringing loads of emotion to the character, she always delivered her lines with clarity and conviction. Performing a long scene, virtually by herself, whilst lying supine on the sofa, must have been a very difficult task vocally but she absolutely nailed it. Two superb performances – I just wished the play had been more stimulating.

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