(Performed in August 2018 – Review published in November 2018)
Beep was…well it was a play with issues, and quite a lot of them I think. It felt very much a work-in-progress in need of some heavy revision and rethinking. The premise of all men being fitted with a chip that beeps when they lie was very promising but fell rather flat in the end.
There was something rather shallow about the narrative as a whole. It didn’t utilise its premise nearly as well as it could have, and failed to say anything all that important about, well, anything really. It felt very much like it was trying to make some kind of important point, but didn’t succeed in doing so. The main plot-device was also quite inconsistent. In speculative fiction, you need to establish basic rules and stick to them, but Beep seemed to have trouble with that. In particular it seemed to have trouble deciding what did and didn’t constitute a lie with the same type of passively untruthful statement either causing a beep or not causing a beep according to what the plot required. Something like this lie-detector chip needs to have fixed rules that the plot and dialogue adapts around, not rules that can be adapted willy-nilly to suit the plot and dialogue. If the script had payed more attention to its own rules, it might not have come out as sloppy as it did.
That said, the script was not a complete lost cause. It was, at times, quite funny, and the cast had an obvious chemistry that sometimes made their interactions quite enjoyable to watch. The plot, and dialogue however were too lacking to allow this chemistry to carry the show. Drama and melodrama were not something this script was particularly good at, and even the more talented actors were unable to make such thoroughly unlikable characters as sympathetic are the writer apparently intended to make them. It culminated in an ending that very much did not feel earned, but used for ill-thought-out shock value and failed attempt at drama that just left an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
The show also made some inadvisable technical choices, with some overly loud sound effects played on awkward jarring loops that at best detracted a little from the onstage action and at worst entirely broke the atmosphere of scenes.
So, you may have gathered, not one the shows I remember particularly fondly from this year’s Fringe. The premise has promise but I think it’ll take some heavy rewrites before that promise gets anywhere.