Writer: Vinay Patel
Director: Bethany Pitts
Reviewer: Joanna Trainor
Andrea is stood at the top of Dartford Bridge working up the courage to throw herself off, while toll booth worker Roland is just looking for someone to talk to. Suicide is an issue that has to be dealt with near perfectly for a performance about it to work, and Vinay Patel’s attempts to cover the topic just aren’t up to par.
Patel’s script doesn’t have a natural flow to it; long confessions and reasons suddenly come out of the works at irrelevant times, so the monologues feel forced and out of character. There are also odd outdated cultural references that appear to be trying to give the piece context, but instead they jar with the rest of the conversation. Long scene changes also don’t help the production, it seems an odd choice of direction to leave such long gaps that stunt the story unnecessarily.
That is not to say that the actors don’t do well with what they’re given, Maynard Eziashi portrayal of worker Roland is very moving. He is able to give a constant feeling of empathy even when antagonising his visitor. His decision to keep going while dealing with almost the exact same circumstances that Andrea finds herself in, is just as upsetting as her decision to end things. His mundane, lonely life is exposed as he desperately tries to save one jumper, and the emotion Eziashi brings to the rôle makes you sympathise with, rather than pity him.
Free Fall has a great conflicting mix of pain and humour brought on by the actors’ performance, but the script really does them no favours. Having to break into a speech that only appears to be there for the writer rather than the audience is difficult to do well. It’s a good concept for a play, but Patel simply misses the mark.
Runs until 1st November