Monday, June 24

Giles – Brighton Fringe

The advertising material for Frédéric Blanchette’s comedy, ‘Giles’, showing as part of Brighton Fringe 2021, poses the question: How well do you know your friends? The online play seeks to explore that conundrum through the lens of a zoom date night. Directed by Marianne Badrichani, it features a cast of three: Chris Campbell as Richard, Edith Vernes as Sophie and Sam Alexander as Giles.

Sophie, based in Paris, and her boyfriend Richard, located in London, meet regularly face to face via the internet. Richard has invited his best friend, Giles, to one such rendezvous much to his girlfriend’s dismay. Sophie repeatedly tells Richard that she loathes Giles which he finds incomprehensible. When Giles joins the meeting, detailing his Covid related good deeds, the reason for Sophie’s antipathy seems clear. Not so to Richard however who is determined that a friendship be forged between the two key figures in his life.

The amusing, rather than overtly comedic, play certainly does not outstay its welcome with a running time of just over thirty minutes which is entirely conducive to its narrative. Blanchette’s writing, translated by Chris Campbell from French Canadian and adapted for Zoom by him, accurately depicts the now all too familiar awkwardness virtual meetings can invoke. The escalation of that awkwardness when there are participants at odds with each other is well conveyed. All three actors deliver well-judged performances sensitive to the dynamics of this less than relaxed web-based gathering.

The successful bringing together of a best friend and a partner can be a feat not easily achieved. The challenges it creates are insightfully shown. It is therefore unfortunate that the denouement of this piece doesn’t quite work although to explain why would be to enter into the realm of spoiler territory. ‘Giles’ is nonetheless an engaging and enjoyable experience albeit more inducive of a wry smile than a belly laugh.

‘Giles’ is available on-demand until 27th June 2021 via the Brighton Fringe 2021 website

Reviewer: Chris Hughes

Reviewed: 1st June 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★

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