I was definitely drawn to the title of this one. And to locate the play in an Edinburgh flat, with three Fringe performers reviewing themselves (as opposed to their acts), is an attractive idea. Writer and director Bethan Kitchen sees moths as ‘rubbish butterflies’, and she means it sympathetically; her play is of identities going ‘Splat!’ in the face of disappointment.
The in-situ set worked a treat. You walk into the drab decor of someone’s messy sitting room. It’s a cheap let so there’s just the one table and hard chairs. We’re high above Victoria Street at mid-day, and it’s noisy outside. You can hear the ‘Unboring’ Fringe selling itself. But inside it is a lot less cheery, and that doesn’t change.
James hasn’t yet wiped off his clown face, and can just about afford digestive biscuits. Hannah was a dancer but now it’s back to the day job as a mechanic; she still has her ‘Performer’ lanyard to cling to. Conrad has a sandy cloak and charity shop Persian jug, his props for talking to the dead on the Mile. He is trying to write a play with Hannah, but the opening lines are too dismal for words. And then there’s Claudia, James’ girlfriend, who feeds his biscuit habit and has a thing for sequins and hair scrunchies. No room here for a Fringe First, and the Herald Angel Awards have long flown.
So it’s a low-key chat, scraping the bottom of the biscuit tin, and not a time or place for showy acting. There are droll spells, and narrative of sorts does emerge, but with these characters it’s insecure, doubting stuff and is shy of the light. No one is going to get excited for fear of (more) failure. The best that Conrad can manage is whether he should revisit his one-night stand with the duff ‘Night-crawler’. He probably knows that most moths are nocturnal.
As a short story the whole piece would have real merit – but for the stage, like its characters, it needs a pick-me-up. The whole Festival thing – talk of Southside, big venues, little venues, cheap drinks, and the rest – might have done the trick. And some full-on reviewer-bashing by this young and talented cast would have given them more fun, I’m sure.