Paradigm is a new fringe repertory company, premiering its first season at the Hen and Chickens with an original play by the company’s artistic director, Sarah Pitard. Intertwining the stories of six characters, it’s a black comedy exploring relationships and love, with a strong performance at its core from Jonathon West as Scooter. A slightly geeky, awkward communicator, his attempts to handle relationships with his mother, best friend, therapist and a one-night-stand at work prove, not surprisingly, difficult.
Scooter’s charm is his optimism; most of the other characters are also sympathetic and appealing, to the point where it would be good to see a few more sharp edges, and to dig a little deeper into what is driving them. Phoebe Batteson-Brown’s Stephanie is an enjoyably explosive and unpredictable presence, nicely counterbalanced by Cheska Moon’s impressively mature Jessica.
Gilly Daniels gives a touching and appropriately lonely performance as Scooter’s newly widowed mother. Lee Lytle’s Zoey and Mark Arnold’s Darren, while playing pivotal roles, are somewhat underused, which is disappointing because there is clearly more to their stories than is currently revealed. Over all, though, this is an intriguing piece and a promising start for a talented new company.