Photo credit: Sabina McKenzie Brown. Jamie Wilkes and Serena Manteghi photographed.
My first show of 2020 took me to Theatre 503 in Battersea for Sarah Gordon’s debut play ‘The Edit’ which runs until 11th January.
To start off I want to comment on Lydia Denno’s beautiful design for the piece. The set (ignoring a malfunctioning shelf & a suicidal pot plant) is exquisitely designed. I love noticing different things about a set as the play unfolds, making it feel like an active participant in the story being told. The space screams break-up as your eyes adjust, and you start looking through the lens of the story that is being shared. In addition the stylistic use of colour across both set and wardrobe is visually appealing and evocative. I have to take a moment to give credit to both the cast and the stage crew, as the death-diving pot plant was dealt with quickly and professionally.
‘The Edit’ is a two-hander which tells the story of Nick and Elena, who are re-united 2 years after their break-up. Elena goes back to the home she shared with Nick in order to collect the camera she left there. This is a beautifully acted piece. Jamie Wilkes and Serena Manteghi bring an authentic, transparent poignancy to the piece. There is such a convincing chemistry between them, as they inadvertently slip into old patterns of behaviour. Often in relationship pieces, I find myself siding with one of half of the couple, but with ‘The Edit’ my allegiances shifted as more details of their past were revealed, until by the end I realised the blame game was futile. Sarah Gordon’s perspective is so mature and empathetic. The success or failure of a relationship does not, and should not, sit on the shoulders of one person.
I have to say, being slightly out of it following the Christmas and New Year break, it was only after watching ‘The Edit’ that I was surprised by the reminder that this is Sarah Gordon’s debut play. She writes with such truth, and her play is so rich with challenging and engaging themes, that this feels like a piece written by a seasoned playwright. She balances light and dark with great skill. There is plenty of humour in this piece, provoking me to laugh out loud multiple times and helping to off-set the more heart-breaking moments. She also clearly understands the importance of show, don’t tell. There is a glorious scene involving David Bowie and a sandwich that tells you all you need to know about what their relationship was like when it was good. I don’t know how much of this was detailed in the stage directions vs being driven by Joe Hufton’s sensitive direction, but regardless of the source (I like to think a combination of both), it is a masterclass example of show don’t tell done well. In fact, the marriage of script and direction is executed with a flawless precision that demonstrates Hufton’s nuanced understanding of the emotional beats and integrity of the play.
Given the fact this is such a short run, I’d be very surprised if ‘The Edit’ didn’t have a longer run in its future, and I really hope it includes everyone involved in this particular production. Wilkes and Manteghi are Nick and Elena for me. They inhabit these complex characters so convincingly.
You don’t have much time, but if you have a free night this week I’d highly recommend checking out ‘The Edit’ at Theatre 503 before it closes this Saturday night (11th Jan). It would be a particular treat for those who love discovering new playwrights early in their careers.