Writer: Tim Primrose & Sam Siggs
Director: Tim Primrose
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The Public Reviews Rating:
When her mum sends some of her childhood belongings through the post, Lucy’s (Beth Godfrey) life is turned upside down. Used to a fairly mundane but functional relationship with boyfriend Gordon (Ben Clifford) – Thursday night is DVD and dip night! – Lucy misses the fun times of drinking all night and staying up late, so when her favourite panda toy, Panga reappears as an anthropomorphised Panda (Mark O’Neil) who likes drinking special brew, she finally has a partner in crime. Regressing to a childlike state once reunited with Panga, Lucy’s increasingly erratic behaviour drives a wedge between herself and uptight Gordon.
With programmes like Wilfred on TV, and Ted in cinemas now, the idea of a full-sized talking animal companion is no longer a novel concept. Although Panga does have an interesting premise and a well-drawn, believable relationship between Godfrey’s Lucy and Clifford’s Gordon, it suffers from being overlong and overdone. Little is left to the imagination and the resulting portrait is crude rather than illuminating, with numerous scenes of drinking and being irresponsible becoming repetitive and losing all vestiges of humour. The play could have ended neatly at several different points, many of which would have been more satisfying than its final conclusion, and would hopefully have avoided the unnecessary, uncomfortable glove-puppet interlude.
Both Godfrey and Clifford give strong performances in this new play, though they are hampered by the writing and staging. O’Neill gives a consistent and, at times, engaging performance as the eponymous Panga, however his vocal choices and lack of variation in delivery become mundane. There is simply not enough of a story to justify seventy-five minutes of stage time, but perhaps an edited version would distil the original concept and give it some much-needed pace.
Until 26th AugustEdinburgh Fringe: Panga – Hill Street Theatre,