Note: This review is from the 2015 Fringe

@ Sweet Grassmarket, Edinburgh, until Sun 30 Aug @ 20:20

A gut-wrenching, light-hearted and warm production, elegantly juxtaposing past and present, Dave Fargnoli’s incisive two-hander – effortlessly directed by Urban Fox Theatre Company – is a satirical, romantic drama, about life, love, and all the little things in-between.

The thing about any consensual sexual relationship is that our carnal desires can often drown out the truth behind the cracks, because in the initial stages we believe this person to be wonderful, constantly eulogising about how perfect and desirable they are. However, what happens when the halcyon days come to an end, and all of a sudden materialising from behind the cracks comes a completely different person? When Charlie, a humanitarian activist, convinces Mari, a successful actress, to take a drive with him, ostensibly inviting her to a cottage in the middle of nowhere, an unconvincing story about the derivation of his whisky won’t be the only lie he reveals. However, the contradiction behind these seemingly perilous revelations, is that underneath his fa├žade, he is actually just an ordinary person, searching for answers.

In modern day society, we seem to have lost the ability to connect on a human, intimate level, because social media sites have turned us into virtual commodities – believing everything we read, and always looking to blame instead of finding a logical solution. Charlie’s physical reason for inviting Mari to this place might seem salacious, but his moral reasons are pure: he wants her to help him rediscover the meaning of life.

Although some of the expletives are slightly incongruous with the rest of the script, every monologue and duologue helped drive the narrative forward, inviting us into their world. The play was also very layered, mixing the darkness with the light, and the political with the intellectual – augmented by the strength of the acting (especially Mari – played by Clare Ross, who seemed to have an innate ability to connect with the audience).

There’s a huge amount packed into Heartlands, this thoroughly enjoyable short hour of theatre, which finishes on a beautiful picture of freedom, escapism, and the realisation that life will go on, with or without your ability to virtually connect.