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Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well! Live stage shows in Central Scotland, be they Shakespeare or avant-garde.

Edinburgh Fringe 2017: The Waiting Game @ Greenside

What the Edinburgh Fringe website says:

Sam is in a coma. Paolo’s doing everything he can. When Geoff reveals a secret, reality and fantasy blur. This UK debut from critically acclaimed Snowy Owl explores relationships in the digital age, asking what it takes for us to heal and move forward.

Gay relationship dynamics

This play, revolving around the shifting relationships between four gay men, features Marc Sinoway as Paolo, a dope-smoking Sicilian-American whose estranged husband Sam (Ibsen Santos) is in a coma following an overdose of a clearly harder drug. He is now in a relationship with Tyler (Kellan Peavy).

One day, while visiting the hospital he bumps into Sam’s lover Geoff (Joshua Bouchard), a man working in finance whom he naturally considers a “douchebag”. He brushes off the meeting. However, sometime later Geoff turns up at his house to discuss matters. As a consequence of their shared predicament - along with an evident level of suppressed mutual attraction - the pair start to hit it off behind Tyler’s back. Before things go very far, Geoff reveals the real reason for his visit: to ask for legal conservatorship of Sam.

The Waiting Game by Snowy Owl Group

To make matters more complicated, when Paolo pings Sam’s instant message account he keeps getting one single word back: “pong”. Is he starting to emerge from his vegetative state? Is someone impersonating him online? Is Paolo losing his mind?

Well-performed drama

The Waiting Game benefits from excellent performances and well-drawn characters. The four central figures are believable as people, something that is crucial in a story with numerous emotional twists and turns. It initially seems to be taking place largely from Paolo’s point-of-view, and it’s easy to sympathise with him as he clearly has a lot of emotional baggage and overwhelming memories from his relationship with Sam. However, as things progress, Geoff’s side of the story is gradually revealed and it becomes obvious that he, too, has invested heart and soul during the time he spent with his lover. Even Tyler, who is presented as a secondary character for much of the story, gets some powerful dramatic moments later on.

Although Sam himself is played by an onstage actor (Ibsen Santos) he has hardly any lines and spends most of the time sitting, motionless, at the periphery of the stage. While one might argue that his physical presence is superfluous since he doesn’t really play any active role in the story, this manner in which he is incorporated on stage casts a subtle extra layer of residual sadness over the proceedings.

Minimal but fascinating production

The production is fairly minimal as the actors themselves lay the stage with various props during the scene changes, which take place with some accompanying electronic music and a projected background covered with a shifting computer-generated barrage of lines of dialogue. It’s a little strange at first but soon becomes fascinating as it subtly draws the audience into each new scene.

If there’s one criticism to be made it’s that the ending felt rather odd. It didn’t entirely work for me, although others may feel differently. Still, everything leading up to it was compelling and emotive drama, making it a show that I can definitely recommend.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Tickets are available from the following link:

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 logo

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