Pros: Two stories in one, told with a refreshing narrative style and cool live music.
Cons: The staging needs some attention.
Divas is in some ways a classic tale: two people meet, two people fall for each other, one person screws up and there the story ends. Or, in the case of Divas, where it begins: this is one story told from the perspectives of two men, the two halves of one relationship. Adam begins from the relationship’s ultimate demise and Damien begins from, well, the beginning.
Each man tells his story to the audience through a microphone, only coming off mic when ‘speaking’ to the other. Except he is not speaking to the other. He is speaking to the imagined other – who he believes the other to be. The two men only interact with each other directly twice throughout the whole show to various levels of impact. As it turns out, both men had sometimes minimally, sometimes largely different accounts of their one relationship. It would appear Damien’s penchant for ‘white lies’ has placed him in some alternate universe where he only sees his constructed reality and barely seems to know, or wants to know, what’s real anymore. And yet, by the end, it’s not entirely clear what and whose, the truth is: Adam’s or Damien’s? And we will never know.
The show is underpinned by the music of the ‘great divas’ (a pleasure supposedly shared by Adam and Damien) sung by a live a cappella trio on stage dressed in the same fashion of the girl groups of yore – sequins, big hair and all. Stylistically, the show has an innovative approach to the narrative that is compelling to watch. The story is well crafted, the characters are well defined and the performances are strong.
The direction, unfortunately, does seem uncertain in places and here the production lets itself down. The staging can be somewhat awkward, particularly in the case of Damien and the trio who don’t always appear very comfortable imitating the moves of back-up singers gone by. At these moments, when the actor seems unsure what to do, it can be distracting to the audience and detract from involvement in the story.
These are just tweaks that can make a good play better. Divas is innovative, captivating, funny and thought-provoking. Definitely one to look out for at the Edinburgh Fringe if you’re looking for classic with a twist.
Produced by: Fine Mess Theatre
Directed by: Paul Smith
Written by: Joel Samuels
Songs Arranged by: Sam Cable and Lydia Samuels
Musical Direction by: Sam Cable
Run Dates: This was an Edinburgh Fringe preview. Divas will run at the Pleasance Dome at Edinburgh Fringe 5 – 31 August
Box Office: 0131 556 6550
Booking Link: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/divas/performances