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Static, ZOO Playground (Playground 2) – Review

When, at the age of 71, Matty Riley’s (Conor Kelly O’Brien) "old man" James is diagnosed with dementia he suggests taking a road trip to New Orleans. Static is the account of that journey. Unfortunately, the trip reveals itself to be much less fulfilling that they had expected, and the two end up spending most of their days in silence. The grief for the recent loss, as well as the regret for missing out on the opportunity to get to know each other better are still very much raw in Matty's heart. It's evident that the duo of Conor…

Summary

Rating

Poor

After being diagnosed with dementia, a father decides to go on a road trip with his son. Told with words and music, the account of that journey never reaches its full potential.

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When, at the age of 71, Matty Riley’s (Conor Kelly O’Brien) “old man” James is diagnosed with dementia he suggests taking a road trip to New Orleans. Static is the account of that journey. Unfortunately, the trip reveals itself to be much less fulfilling that they had expected, and the two end up spending most of their days in silence. The grief for the recent loss, as well as the regret for missing out on the opportunity to get to know each other better are still very much raw in Matty’s heart.

It’s evident that the duo of Conor Kelly O’Brien and Daniel Amedee are passionate about this work. However, they need to rethink their approach to the subject matter, perhaps with the help of some directorial advice, if it is to be a worthwhile watch.

There’s currently a lack of actual events within the story, so we never really get an insight in to this troubled father-son relationship. Its attempts at descriptions are hampered by a melodramatic tone, with the details often inconsequential or commonplace – their car being old, the motels being cheap but clean. Some scenes just seem to come straight from a film. Furthermore, the text is chunky, burdened as it is by a narrative style that normally belongs to the written word. When a visual element is in place, there shouldn’t be any need for expressions like “he said” or “I said”, enunciated whilst enacting a conversation.

Occasionally, props come out of a cardboard box, but all too often they don’t display a clear link with what that element of the story refers to. A toy car riding over an open map is futile and returns inside the box much too soon. Then there are Daniel Amedee’s songs, intended to charge the plot with extra emotional impact, but they don’t seem to be fitting with the tone or pace.

Come the end, we’re none the wiser about dealing with someone who’s got dementia. Nor can we comprehend Matty’s difficulties of growing up with an absent father. All we’ve been made aware of is that two young man seem to be suffering a lot for an issue they’re not yet able to describe.

Co-created and Performed by: Daniel Amedee and Conor Kelly O’Brien
Producer: New Vintage Ensemble
Box Office: +44 (0)131 226 0000
Booking Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/static
Booking Until: 25 August 2019

About Marianna Meloni

Marianna Meloni
Marianna, being Italian, has an opinion on just about everything and believes that anything deserves an honest review. Her dream has always been to become an arts critic and, after collecting a few degrees, she realised that it was easier to start writing in a foreign language than finding a job in her home country. In the UK, she tried the route of grown-up employment but soon understood that the arts and live events are highly addictive.