The whole point of theatre as a medium is that it is a distinctly visual format. As the famous mantra goes: ‘show, don’t tell’. And the main issue faced by Deadly Dialogues is that in its current form, it would be more suitable as a radio play. The amount of time spent talking at the audience, explaining events rather than showing them, is frankly exhausting.
“The design is nice and minimal, perfect for the Fringe, but the writing proves sadly uninspired”
Following an important and potentially interesting story, Deadly Dialogues explores radicalisation and extremism within Islam in modern Britain, shedding light on a pertinent and crucial topic. It’s just such a shame that it has to be told in such a bland manner. Sure, no specific element proves particularly weak, but no element proves particularly strong either. The acting is good, conveying the emotions with ease. The design is nice and minimal, perfect for the Fringe, but the writing proves sadly uninspired.
Most semblance of character is lost early on as every actor acts far more as cardboard cutout narrator than a distinct or individual character. The bottom line is, when you’re just being talked at, given no visual stimulation, it becomes incredibly easy to switch off, and once you do, the production does nothing to draw you back in. It continues on in its rambling narrative structure, never using the format of theatre to explore such a nuanced issue.
Perhaps I am being unfair. We’re three weeks into the Fringe, and it’s fair to say everyone is in a fairly constant state of delirium. Early in the festival when I was more attentive and awake, perhaps I could have found more enjoyment in Deadly Dialogues, but I can only critique the production on my experience and that was one which failed to capture my imagination, feeling far more like a lecture than a story. With the director, Jessica Lazar, having directed one of my favourite shows of last year’s Fringe, Life According to Saki, I really wanted to like this production. But all the zaniness and innovation in Saki was completely absent here, leaving a production lacking in the intricate stagecraft which made Saki so special.
Deadly Dialogues shows a lot of potential to be an affecting and important piece of theatre, but squanders that potential, leaving a painfully bland and disappointing production.
C main, 4th – 28th August (not 15th), 16:15
Image: Alex Brenner