A Table Tennis Play review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘studded with moments of magic’
Walrus Theatre scored a big Edinburgh Fringe hit with 2015’s Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Sam Steiner’s deft, elegant play about relationships and the limitations of language. A Table Tennis Play reaffirms Steiner as a name to watch.
Inside an air raid shelter at her former home, Cath is sorting through her late mother’s possessions. Mia, a teenage tennis ace whose dad now owns the house, becomes increasingly emotionally invested in this process.
Steiner’s play is a subtle and beguiling piece of writing, encompassing huge things – grief, the passing of time – and minutiae, ingeniously economical in the way it uses words, with a deliciously offbeat sense of humour.
Ed Madden, who also helmed Lemons, displays a strong understanding of the strengths of the material and the cast breathe life into the idiosyncratic world of the play.
Beth Holmes is a delight as the permanently uneasy, weirdly intense teenager. Rosa Robson and Euan Kitson capture the texture of the text as Cath and her boyfriend, Callum while batting a ball back and forth.
It feels as if more could have been made of the central device: the use of a ball pit full of table tennis balls to represent the stuff of a life, but it doesn’t matter. The play is studded with moments of magic and unexpectedly, capsizingly moving narrative swerves – images that linger.
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