Underbelly, Cowgate, Edinburgh
Ken Jaworowski’s Acts of Redemption is a series of six disparate monologues, presented with pleasing simplicity by director James Wren.
First, in Never Smile, Never Wave, we meet a spoilt little rich girl: self-satisfied, judgemental and very privileged indeed. But, when a stranger in a bar tells her she looks sad, her vulnerability is revealed, and we are left wishing that we could find out more. This is, I think, the strongest of the set, exquisitely performed by Akila Cristiano, who manages to make us root for someone quite unlikeable.
Next comes Pulse, where three separate stories are interwoven. They’re loosely linked, each dealing with familial love, and this is another success. A young man (James Huntington) comes out to his father; a man (Dan Lees) teaches his little boy to fight the bullies who are hurting him; a young woman (Amee Smith) sacrifices her dreams to care for her ailing dad. All three pieces are well-crafted, and the acting powerful.
The last two monologues are perhaps the weakest. In Luck of the Draw, Rachel Parris plays a miserable woman, who dreams of winning the lottery and leaving home. The character is interesting, and there are a few nice twists, but it feels a little under-developed, and perhaps a tad cliched. Timberwood Drive, performed by Joe Wreddon, is the slightest of all, telling the rather far-fetched tale of a hapless womaniser whose wife and mistress co-own the same dog. It’s a little bit silly, and doesn’t connect with the audience in the way the others do.
All in all, this is a decent production, and I certainly enjoyed the hour spent watching it. I couldn’t help but wish, however, that the pieces were more unified, and that there were something more to hold them together than the tenuous idea of ‘redemption’ (especially as they’re not all redeemed).
An interesting – if mixed – show, with some genuine talent on display.