Writer: David Edgar
Director: Christopher Haydon
Reviewer: Molly Knox
Trying It On at the Traverse Theatre comes as David Edgar’s witty “follow up” to his play Maydays, written 35 years ago,and explores themes of revolution and youth, delivered through a dynamic autobiographical monologue by Edgar himself. The piece is self-admittedly imperfect, which adds beautifully to the honesty and self-reflection that it provides the audience, as Edgar digs deep to discover the question; “What happened to the Sgt. Pepper generation?” Trying It On undoubtedly does not fail to impress as a play facing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The play opens as casually as it is cluttered; with Edgar himself pacing the stage, surrounded by bits and bobs, boxes, files, Russian dolls, lamps- the lot. Openly, the play intelligently discusses our current, past and future political climate, and refuses to shrug off political incorrectness or disingenuous politics without being cynical of the audience. It, instead, challenges everybody in the room on how they think, who they are, and what they’ll accept and stand to listen to. The use of subtle audience interaction (nothing too scary, I promise) is also very telling, and adds balance to a piece centred around the youth of an individual.
The potential presumption that this show consists only of politically nostalgic waffle is far from the truth. David Edgar does a wonderful job at putting himself in his place, whilst excellently re-telling the socialism that wraps his past. Despite points in the piece which drag ever so slightly, the insightful self-critical look at Edgar’s rebellious play-writing past, which oozes out of the show with masterful elegance, heavily outweighs this. Moreover, Edgar’s storytelling is calm, casual and smart, whilst simultaneously discussing a vision much bigger than himself. It’s optimistically refreshing.
In short: Trying It On is heartful, hopeful and humorous, and is packed full of spelling mistakes, counterculture, red balloons, and its own intergenerational manifesto. This is an introspective beauty that’s seriously talking about a revolution.
Runs until 25 August 2019 | Image: Lara Cappelli