What do you think of when you imagine the island of Fiji? A paradise: to die for, right? In this production from Conflicted Theatre and Clay Party that’s exactly what it is.
Sam (Pedro Leandro) and Nick (Eddie Loodmer-Elliott) met online a short while ago, but this weekend they’re finally meeting up in person. Sam’s told everyone he’s bought a one-way ticket to Fiji but instead he’s with Nick. The two feel that they have a deeply special relationship and plan to spend the rest of their lives together. But for Sam that life will be very brief, because he has asked Nick to kill and eat him. Yep, you read that right. Their rationale is that by Nick ingesting Sam their relationship will be the ultimate sharing of love, as they will literally become part of each other.
Fiji is framed as a living room black comedy, and it is full of laughs and quirky moments from the off. Very early on Sam is obliged to change his sweater to one that is salmon-coloured: already he’s associated with being food. There is hilarity in the mundanity of cheap Spanish wine and an enormous lemon. But the humour then contrasts unsettlingly with what they have planned.
Leandro and Loodmer-Elliott make a touchingly charming couple, bringing human vulnerability and tenderness to their characters, even as they argue the case for the barbaric actions they are intending to undertake. Loodmer-Elliott is cool and reasonable as the potential cannibal, while Leandro is a beautiful, bright-eyed joy, full of life, warmth and song. Coming together for this horrific purpose, they demonstrate how internet dating can be a toxic way to facilitate perverse relationships in bizarre forms.
Although unapologetically silly in places, under Evan Lordan’s precise and measured direction the script soon butchers any audience complacency. The sparkling comedy is jarringly fractured with apprehension, as the true reason for the weekend together becomes clear, and we wonder how far things will go. Everyday conversation is punctuated by a tense countdown of spotlighted, intimate questions and answers, which we learn lead directly to the moment that the murder will occur. These questions offer us considerations about what has led to this shocking decision: does it stem from maternal issues, or a desire to be ‘famous’ perhaps? As scientific research, what will Nick’s ‘experiment’ disclose? And all the while the two men reassure each other that they want this to happen, each for their own reasons. Does that make it acceptable?
The play is a focussed study of consent between two adults in the most extreme circumstances, the story based on a real life incident in Germany. It interrogates what the rules would be in a situation like this: who gets to decide how it plays out, and what responsibilities are involved, both between participants and in their wider social circle? The discussion is remarkably balanced, as the characters reconcile the issues within their own instances, arguing the case for personal choice, whilst acknowledging there is a world outside where these actions are known to be wrong.
This is a carefully crafted production with sterling performances from the perfectly attuned duo of Leandro and Loodmer-Elliott, who effortlessly take you along for the ride. Although humorous, the script is not flippant in discussing the very dark subject matter, and asks some compelling questions. Bizarrely offering romance and laughter alongside repulsive horror, there’s really deep thinking here that will get you inside some minds you might prefer not to have encountered.
Written by Pedro Leandro, Eddie Loodmer-Elliott and Evan Lordan
Directed by Evan Lordan
Produced by Conflicted Theatre Company and Clay Party
Fiji plays at Omnibus Theatre until 25 March. Further information and bookings via the below button.