The Debut scheme – a programme of four shows by first-time writers, jointly produced by BBC Arts and Avalon – is the oddity of the Fringe’s first week. Questions abound. Why have they gone for established names instead of emerging talent? Why was Bim Adewunmi’s play, Hoard, pulled at the last minute? Is Frank Skinner ever going to produce anything as good as Three Lions?
Thankfully, actress and comedian Katherine Parkinson’s contribution to the scheme isn’t as bad as Skinner’s. But it’s still not great. Three characters – Luke, Cassandra and Mary – sit on separate chairs in an artist’s studio and deliver monologues, as if to a watching artist.
It is really quite dull. Chunk after five-minute chunk of speech, sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, with no line threaded through any of it. Just morsel after disconnected morsel.
Until the end, that is, when some of it slots into place and you realise who these people are and how they’re connected. It’s not much of a payoff, though, for the hard work you have to put in to get there. The acting is fine, great even, and Sarah Bedi’s production makes the most of a stilted script, but this is a still-life of a show – sincerely tedious stuff.