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Ballot Box

at Paradise in the Vault

* * * - -

Promising two-hander about friendship-splitting modern politics.

Image of Ballot Box

Ballot Box is an enjoyable, semi-autobiographical two-hander set against a backdrop of last year’s Brexit, written by Emily Parker-Barratt and starring her and Keri Bastiman as two struggling actresses in a London flatshare. It premiered last month at the Greater Manchester Fringe, and tonight’s show is the final one of a week-long Edinburgh run.

It appears they’ve drawn on their respective backgrounds to create the very workable dynamic between the two. Molly (Bastiman) is the northern, working class Eurosceptic one and Lydia (Parker-Barratt), the southern, boarding school Europhile one. They rub up against each other, but not just in obvious ways. As housemates, they’re fairly harmonious and complementary, although Remainer Lydia’s intellectual certainties have begun to grate with Molly. The really interesting tension is created when Lydia begins conducting a political debate by proxy with Molly’s mother, using Molly as the conduit. This leaves Molly straddling a divide it’s hard for her to negotiate. Family loyalty comes first in her dealings with Lydia, but in phone calls to her mother it’s apparent that Lydia’s constant hectoring has begun to rub off. Things get more tense when Molly’s mum falls ill…

The tiny Paradise Vault serves very well as the pair’s front room, and we find ourselves watching them, Gogglebox style, watching TV. The action unfolds over their tea and booze fuelled sofa debates, with the odd solo scene thrown in to give us a different perspective on the characters. It’s easy watching and the writing is well-paced, with tensions working evenly to a head. There’s occasional stretches of unnatural dialogue which sound like they’ve been written for page rather than stage. There’s also little we don’t know about the family and friendship-testing nature of Brexit and its aftermath. But it’s a production and performance that shows promise and a soap opera-esque eye for personal dramas.

 

/ @peaky76


Robert is the Managing Editor of The Wee Review and has been writing for the site since early 2014. Previously, he was manager of the Yorkshire arts website, digyorkshire. He pays bills by working for a palliative care charity and lives in Edinburgh.

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