Sunday, May 19

Peak Stuff – Traverse Theatre

Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre’s reputation as the Capital’s go-to venue for cutting edge, experimental and thought-provoking new work can only be enhanced by this belter of a play from award-winning theatre company Thickskin. Touring England for the last month, the Scottish premiere tonight of Peak Stuff, by young writer Billie Collins fairly fizzes along with new ideas and brilliant acting not to mention superb lighting and set and spectacular video design.

Stage centre, on a raised LED-edged plate Meg Lewis takes us on an often-overwhelming journey, through the eyes of three characters, Alice, Ben and Charlie. All consumers, and all consumed to varying degrees by the world we live in today. Teenager, Alice wants to poke a stick into the wheel of fast fashion, Ben is hiding from reality and values things more than people, and Charlie, introverted ex-psychology student finds a ready partner in Etsy, selling … herself.

Photo: Steve Gregson

Behind Lewis on a raised platform, live drumming from Matthew Churcher, is propulsive and driving, a veritable treadmill of sound, feeling exactly right for the relentless consumer machine. This is not all beefy beating however, the variety of sounds is impressive, from feather light taps, to brushes and scrapes, his touch creates a kaleidoscope of expression.

So, this really feels more like a double act, the synergy and symbiosis between Lewis and Churcher is palpable.

Whilst one person shows can often feel a bit awkward for the audience due to the exposure and vulnerability of the actor, there is never any danger of that here. There is also the clever use of pre-recorded voice-overs at various points which act both as a prompt to Lewis but also help, through the disembodied voice, to further reinforce the alienation and disconnectedness which are at the heart of this piece.

A mesmeric, poetic, timely piece of theatre-making which feels extremely well made, hand-crafted and sewn together with love and care by director Neil Bettles and brought home by the frankly brilliant Meg Lewis. Don’t miss it!

Reviewer: Greg Holstead

Reviewed: 1st March 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.