Written by Martin Keady and starring Karen Ford and Harriet Mardlin as Ruth and Vanessa respectively, there is a sense of verisimilitude in MEETING as the main characters ‘meet’ on Zoom. Having been recorded over the now-familiar video conferencing service, there are occasional small moments in the show where the diegetic audio lags or cuts out, while a cameo from Phil Mardlin (Terry) instantiates a common embarrassment for anyone working remotely. This apt representation of real Zoom calls even extends to the production’s final moments, where there is a slight dissonance between the characters as they conclude their conversation and leave the meeting.
However, MEETING also fails to impress in parts. The dialogue between characters feels stilted and appears to lack a natural rhythm or flow. While this may suggest that the production lives up to its ‘awkward’ billing, I was left feeling as though the show was uneven in tone, and at times, rushed or forced. The short film also makes reference to the current global situation, with mentions of social distancing and lockdown, and while such references admittedly aren’t out of place in the context of the show, their implementation felt contrived to me. Additionally, there are points where the performers could be considered to be ‘overacting’ as such, though this is understandable given the restriction of attempting to convey emotions through Zoom.
Despite its shortcomings, MEETING does finish well as its emotional crux draws to a climax, with Ford’s performance impressing in particular.
A new take on drama in the age of lockdown, MEETING is conceptually interesting, but in my opinion, its execution ultimately falls short.
Tickets to stream MEETING at Brighton Fringe are available now