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EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: A TABLE TENNIS PLAY, Underbelly Cowgate

EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: A TABLE TENNIS PLAY, Underbelly Cowgate

EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: A TABLE TENNIS PLAY, Underbelly CowgateA woman returns to her childhood home to clear out family belongings found by the new owners in an air raid shelter long buried under the flower beds. As the play continues, it becomes clear each of the three characters have buried things of their own that they have to deal with.

A new work written by Sam Steiner and presented by Walrus Theatre - the partnership behind previous Fringe hit Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons - A Table Tennis Play touches on bereavement, desire and discontent, looking at how we cope with these through repression or distraction, invariably reluctant to confront things head on.

Steiner's gift for dialogue is in full evidence here, using his characters' foibles and idiosyncrasies to illuminate masterfully and without judgement so much that goes unsaid. Their awkward babbling covers up trauma with lies, denial and the most mundane of distractions in the titular sport.

Under the direction of Ed Madden, the challenging script is realised through slick delivery from all three performers, all showing a strong understanding of the subtext under the trivialities. There is a particularly gorgeous monologue from Callum (Euan Kitson) that captures everything one could need to know about his relationship in one seemingly inane list of hypothetical games.

Despite fascinating moments like these, however, the play never quite seems to gel together into a cohesive, satisfying whole, instead meandering through pleasing moments in search of resolution. It is not aided by an overly abstract audiovisual design, seemingly at odds with the highly natural feel of the dialogue.

Beth Holmes as Mia does her best with an underdeveloped part, finishing the play with a monologue that feels tacked on, as if to apologise for not giving her enough to work with elsewhere. In it, Mia expresses a sentiment of potentially being unfinished, and it feels as though she is speaking for the play.

This is promising work from a talented team, but despite moments of greatness it never quite comes into its own.

A Table Tennis Play is at Underbelly, Cowgate until 25 August.

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