AT THE THEATRE
Edinburgh Fringe 2018: Extinguished Things @ Summerhall
This solo play, written and performed by Molly Taylor, features the actress narrating straight to the audience as she explores a house in Liverpool belonging to a couple named Alton and Evie, who fail to return home one day. They were her neighbours while she was growing up. As she talks about the various objects littering their home, she recalls her own childhood memories in the company of the two.
It’s best not to give too much away about Extinguished Things since it functions rather like an intimate human puzzle. As the play goes on, we learn more and more about the central couple; who they were, their habits, their preoccupations, the way in which they connected and their ultimate fate. This manner of storytelling feels like peeling away the layers of an onion. Well okay, so you might not quite be sent into floods of tears but nonetheless, there’s a gentle blend of both warmth and sadness which gradually emerges to colour in the overall picture.
The depiction of their life together shows them to be fairly unremarkable people in the grand scheme of things. Yes, one or two particularly dramatic incidents are recalled which directly reference incidents in the history of the city of Liverpool itself - but on the whole, there’s nothing exceptional about either Alton or Evie. Paradoxically, however, it’s the fine and realistic details, carefully rooted in time and place, which succeed in fleshing them out as believable human beings and give the audience a real feel for what made their time on this earth together so special. Taylor’s dialogue is evocative and beautifully poetic at times. At the same time, there are a few touches of humour, a description of the now-legendary tome The Joy of Sex being a classic example.
As the title suggests, Extinguished Things is all about a fire long gone rather than one burning before our eyes. Don’t go in expecting sensation and fireworks. Instead, what we get is an immaculately detailed and subtly absorbing piece which rewards paying close attention to.
Tickets are available from the following link: