Twelve shows down. Three to go. The Edinburgh Fringe may be finished, but Free for All continues.
First, however, now that the hectic month of August is over, we’re all taking a break from the show and these updates might go quiet until January, when we revive Free for All for our tour of the Midlands. I’ll update the site around then to let you know the details, but before that I thought I’d finish with a summary of the end of our time in Edinburgh.
Though never large, audiences continued to give positive feedback on the show, including comments posted on the Edfringe website and our company blog. We invited two guests from Shakespeare’s Globe on the final night, who (in an unofficial capacity) commented on how interesting they found it to hear the rhythms of verse used for everyday contemporary language. And we had our second review, from Broadway Baby’s Cara Ballingall, which emphasised a lot of the aspects we ourselves wanted the production to convey.
Ballingall saw the production as ‘a very clever verse play with a strong political slant, exploring the ideas of choice and social responsibility’. She praised some ‘lovely moments’ in Bec’s direction, and commented that the use of virtual reality allowed us to make ‘some very precise points’ about modern life. Most helpfully for us, the review drew attention to the ‘variety of verse structures’ used in the script, which contributed to the production’s success: ‘it is immensely enjoyable to hear a play written this way be spoken out loud. As the actors run through rhythm and rhyme, you feel the verse form adding a layer of impact to the manifestos being put forward.’
All of this confirms my own hypotheses about verse drama, that it creates a space where rhetoric both is possible and can be made memorable, where the use of poetic structure anchors and deepens expression. By the end of the run, we were happy to see that audiences were responding to just these qualities, and that the verse was doing the theatrical work we hoped it would.
Once I’m back from my own break, I’m going to give a general overview of what I learned as a writer and producer from this experience of the Edinburgh Fringe: what I liked and what I found difficult about the way it operates, and how I’d do things differently in a future show.
One thing we already know we’d like to focus on in the touring production of *this* show will be creating a bit more space, giving characters private moments and allowing their thoughts and feelings more room to breathe. In the Fringe, the short allocated running time meant some of these things were a little compressed, and we’re looking forward to working with a more expansive slot and settings as we bring the show to audiences across the Midlands. These shows will also give us the opportunity to discuss all of the above with audiences directly, so we’re really hoping we can see you there!