End of the World by Ella Lovelady is very funny. Mel and Em are 20-something women who share a flat in Manchester and do all the things 20-somethings do. They work, they drink, they argue, they drink, and they fancy Fit Toby who lives upstairs.
Mel is very angry with the world. Her first line, delivered with force, is “They’re all c**ts”. Any play that begins with “They’re all c**ts” is taking a risk. It’s a cheap laugh, unless the audience walks out. Either way you have to transcend it. Lovelady’s writing does just that. Mel, an energetic and determined Jess Gough, uses the ‘c’ word a lot, but she has reason. She is very concerned about, well, lots of things. Climate change, poverty, the shortage of tigers. And nobody else seems to care. Gough gives the character a wonderful range of facial expressions which suggests she might be an excellent clown.
Em, played by author Lovelady, is more laid back, more forensic. “What sort of tigers are we talking about? Snow tigers? Indian tigers?” Jess deflects, and therein lies the rub. The plot moves forward in a series of rapid and hilarious scenes, until a fly enters the ointment, no spoilers here, and things get a bit serious. It’s a mark of Lovelady’s skill as a writer that she takes us with ease from a light, fast, hilarious ride to a much more serious exploration of the characters’ real selves. And a denouement that reveals the truth.
The action takes place in the kitchen of the flat, a wonderful lived-in assortment of units designed by Meriel Pym, and the actors change costumes on stage. This simple staging is a necessity for Edinburgh where you get five minutes to turn your show round, but it also fits the tone of the play perfectly. Director Sarah Nelson has been precise about the laughs, but left the actors plenty of room to play.
This is producer Pinchy Theatre’s first production, and they are taking it to that graveyard of financial ambition, the Edinburgh Fringe. It will be eligible for a Fringe First and I hope they get one.
Photos by Grant Ashcroft
End of the World will be at the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information, click here.