Pros: A rich storyline with plenty of interesting and well-acted characters. Provides the proper amount of intrigue and message.
Cons: Lacks a tad of pace and is let down by redundant scenes that don’t offer much to the overall theme.
There I was, on the hottest day on records, making my way to the loft room upstairs at the Dogstar; I was happy enough to brave the sweltering temperatures, looking forward to enjoy what was an intriguing storyline put together by dynamic company Imaginary Friends. I watched the last of three pre-Edinburgh London performances of No Hopers, so by the time you read this you will have to head to the Fringe Festival to catch them!
The setting was pub-style, very bare but effective. We were sitting on suitably random chairs in a cosy, homely atmosphere that would soon become a lovely little steam room at no extra cost.
At the onset, Hannah (Izzy Lim) reluctantly confronts a counselling session. She is a freshly graduated actress, clearly finding it difficult to keep her emotions and dreams on the same page. It’s revealed that she shares a flat in South London with her recent art graduate boyfriend Cain (Jumaane Brown), and has a love-hate relationship with her mother who is as far away from her heart as she is from London. Hannah and Cain’s lives seem to revolve around their friends, lefty’s politics, daily survival and above all having too many dreams and too little ideas as to how to realize them. Always skint, the pair seems to live an existence of limbo, where love and fears run hand in hand.
The storyline develops quite enjoyably, with a strong character definition. I soon find myself empathizing with Cain’s relaxed attitude to life and inability to say anything remotely nice to his girlfriend. Six more actors (Kevin Jay, Andy Lavelle, Izzy Lim, Harriet Madeley, Shane Noone and Olimpia Pattison-Corney) provide a bewildering array of extra characters that soon fill up a rich canvass of drama, humour, expectation and some much welcomed sultry action.
How will the couple evolve when life offers opportunities they can’t refuse? What choice will they make when to achieve their dreams they have to give up their pride? And when success arrives, where will their loyalty stay?
These are all fascinating questions and the story goes into great length to enrich and develop these ideas. Perhaps too much length in my view, and with a second half considerably longer than the first, I began to wonder how much more narrative was to come! Add a somewhat slow pace and a fairly predictable ending, I was left with a sense that the director had lots of good ideas but couldn’t quite decide on which one to cut. What a shame, as with a more decisive direction, cutting some less necessary scenes and re-thinking the ending, this could have been a much punchier, funnier and dynamic play. Nevertheless, No Hopers is enjoyable and conveys important messages, especially for twenty-somethings facing the pangs of graduating into the wide world. I wish Imaginary Friends all the best of luck in Edinburgh.
Authors: Rob Skinner and Daisy-May Pattison-Corney
Producer: Emily Aitcheson/Imaginary Friends
Booking Until: 24 July 2014