Sunset Yellow is a collection of three short, dark comedy plays, written by Jamie Pye and directed by Pye and Kieran Kidd.
The first play, The Campfire, is set on the campsite of four friends who have not seen each other for a long time. It has a nostalgic feeling as the four friends tells stories around their warm campfire. It quickly becomes clear however that something is amiss as Abby tells a fun story from her childhood and Jo reacts like a petulant child throwing camping paraphernalia around in the background and pulling bored and impatient faces. She rudely interrupts Abby’s story and her friends react badly to her rudeness, but they cannot anticipate where Jo’s behaviour will escalate to.
This is an interesting piece with plenty of twists and turns but could be strengthened by some development of Jo’s character as she generally comes across as pathetic and childish, and some further exploration of her motivations and relationships with the other three could make this a more thought-provoking piece. The remaining cast do a good job of portraying the loss of patience with Jo and her behaviour, carefully escalating their tone and body language as things progress. The portrayal of Jo is also very good and development of her character would be worthwhile.
The second piece, The Boat, is set in a small inflatable boat adrift somewhere in the middle of the ocean. Again, looking at the relationships of four friends, what appears at first to be a holiday where everyone has gotten too hot and a little bored, is soon revealed to be a disaster where the four have been stranded in the ocean for over a week and are now facing the very real possibility that they won’t survive the ordeal.
The portrayal of Pat as the eternal optimist whose hope is slowly dashed by Clyde’s pessimism is very good. The increasing anger of Clyde is also excellent, and it would be interesting to explore how the four friends ended up in this situation and how their relationships looked beforehand further.
These first two pieces have sound effects in the background throughout, to create the effect of the crackling campfire and the expansive ocean, but this does mean that the cast need to pay extra attention to projection as often they cannot be heard over the background sounds. Both pieces do a good job of exploring long-standing friendships and the impact that one person going against the group can have.
The final play, No Sugar, is the strongest and most worthy of further development and exploration.
Set in an almost empty café, Pippa is keen to strike up a conversation with her only customer, Percy. Her clumsy flirting is endearing, and her character appears to be a very sweet and good natured person, but a sense of dread soon appears when Percy confesses that he has no memory of his actions that day or how he ended up in the café.
Pippa’s behaviour quickly becomes suspect as her portrayal of innocence rapidly unravels. The portrayal of Percy’s panic is excellent and the chemistry between both actors is brilliant creating both a sense of romance and growing anxiety.
It would be very interesting to see this piece developed further and a fuller explanation of what the events mean presented. Repetitive dialogue is used to interesting effect to create a mysterious tone and could be utilised further in a longer piece to explore the themes looked at more.
Sunset Yellow is an interesting anthology of short plays, all of which could be developed and explored further. Pye’s writing is clearly interesting, utilising both surrealism and dark comedy to an engaging and original effect.
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 10th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★