The location for Meeting at 33 is the Salvation Army building opposite the entrance to the Pleasance Courtyard. The site sensitive performance takes place in one of the back rooms of the building and everyone who enters is given the option of taking a cup of tea and biscuit. On the walls are a 12 step guide and in the middle of the circle of chairs is a table. On this table are a series of cards with motivational statements on them. The setup for Meeting at 33 is an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Various actors are present in the room and sitting in the circle along with the audience. The actors are performing a verbatim script, where the words are taken directly from interviews with addicts. The audience are active participants in the story, as the performance gradually reveals itself around us.
Meeting at 33 is written and directed by Hannah Samuels and presented by Second Circle Theatre. The idea is in many ways simple – invite the audience in to the support group and allow them to witness the real life stories first hand. This is a very effective presentation. Hearing the words up close and seeing the whites of the eyes of the speakers heightens the drama and makes the stories feel more real and powerful. The performance itself is filled with tension and quiet moments of contemplation. As the meeting progresses tempers rise and conflicting opinions are presented.
One point the performance likes to emphasise is the difference between religion and spiritualism. One of the addicts highlights the need for the spiritual aspect of the meetings in aiding their acceptance of their problems and helping them discover methods of care. Meeting at 33 is being performed at various times throughout the Fringe with two performances each day and two different version of events to experience. And it is a worthwhile and powerful experience.