Review: Fow

Deaf & Fabulous/Taking Flight

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Summerhall Online

Almost all of the best drama in love stories boils down, in one way or another, to communication, or a lack of it – from Darcy’s ill-judged proposal, to Harry and Sally skirting around the edges of friendship for years. Fow is no different. Three characters, one speaking mainly Welsh, one using mainly British Sign Language, and one English, find their paths intersecting in unexpected ways and have to figure out how to overcome barriers in communication far beyond those posed by their respective languages.

Lissa is deaf, and the combination of living with her difficult Instagram-influencer housemate, lack of communication with her family and struggling in university has her on the defensive, so when Sîon accidentally stumbles into her life, he doesn’t get the warmest reception. However, as they spend more time together, and begin to understand each other, that changes. Throw in a surprise visit from Lissa’s chaotic older brother Josh, some spectacular arguments, and a romantic gesture that belongs in the Pantheon with John Cusack holding a boombox and Hugh Grant impersonating a member of the press, and you have all of the ingredients for a classic romantic comedy.

Though, like many other shows in the past 18-months, Fow was filmed on Zoom or a similar platform, it does not feel like it has lost theatricality in its transfer to a trio two-dimensional boxes. Using frames, backdrops, puppets and paper speech bubbles, Becky Davies’s design creates a theatrical space reminiscent of photo-story comic strips, making use of its confinement to Zoom-boxes. Such clever construction and adaptation is a hallmark of this show, with Alun Saunders’ script blending three languages to great effect and bringing the audience along on the journey of communication gaps, miscommunications and eventual understandings that the characters traverse.

The three performers, Stephanie Back, Ioan Gwyn and Jed O’Reilly, all deliver impressive and convincing performances, sustaining the energy of the work on screen for almost two hours, while never overcompensating and losing the easy, natural relatability of their characters.

Fow is a precise, insightful and entertaining play, which prompts us to question what language and love mean to us.

Fow is available to stream via Summerhall Online until 29th August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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