Atop the Dartford bridge, the suicidal Andrea (Amie George) climbs over the barrier and stares into her watery grave, until along comes toll bridge attendant Roland (Matt James Brown) who takes it upon himself to talk her out of it.
This is Free Fall, a play written by BAFTA nominated writer Vinay Patel and produced by Rogue Bones. It is a two-hander where both characters develop an unlikely bond, are shown to be utterly desperate, and are more similar than they may think.
It is a dark comedy that often leaves the audience feeling as awkward as they do amused, with the tones of conversation shifting frequently to keep everyone with a little knot in their stomach. While performances from Amie George and Matt James Brown were solid, I feel that the play itself is quite weak and the overall performance suffers as a result.
References felt outdated at times and make the play feel somewhat stale – the characters sitting down to watch Geordie Shore brings us back to 2012, which is all very well and good, but there’s absolutely no reason for us to be there. It gives off the impression that the writer has just grabbed a script that was sitting in the bottom drawer of his desk without giving a second thought to redrafting it.
My main bugbear, however, is that even though the play seemed to be a reflection on suicide – what can drive a person to it, can you really talk a person out of it once they’re too far gone, and what do people truly have to live for – the play in no way does this heavy topic justice.
The character of Andrea comes across a selfish annoyance, constantly berating the only man who is trying to help her. Writing a suicidal character in this way is deeply troubling for me, as an audience member you feel absolutely no sympathy for her killing herself at the end.
Overall Rogue Bones do the best with what they are working with, but Vinay Patel falls short of the mark in writing a play that does justice to the loaded subject of suicide. The premise of Free Fall is intriguing, but the end product cannot fulfil the promises of its setup.