Integrity - Review
Integrity is a show that has led two lives. Its first life was rooted in politics; the coalition between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives (although they are never named in the text), and how they managed to screw up tuition fees. However, with the progression of the #MeToo movement, the author decided to add commentary on the interaction between sexual harassment and power.
The principal problem with the play is that the two subjects are not particularly well integrated. In the programme notes, the author/director/producer/actor states that as it grew it became more and more about harassment issues and less about politics. The first two scenes set the tone for a political drama about political principles about promises made, and then largely forgot about them.
Nonetheless, the show picked up when the two young protagonists began to discuss the issues of sexual harassment. I largely enjoyed their duologues as they talked about what was and was not appropriate, and although you could see the twist hurtling towards you, it was refreshing to talk about harassment from both the male and female perspective.
Having said that, I cannot say that any of the characters seemed particularly realistic to me. The situations they got themselves into seemed oversimplified and a occasionally uncomfortable. Maybe that was the whole point, but with the complete 180˚ turnaround of the young female character, the play lost some of its credibility for me. There were just no characters I was rooting for. I do not think anyone came out on top, and the message seemed skewed and blurry. It just got lost.
However, what irked me even more were the little things done badly. I understand at the Fringe that everything is a bit more haphazard, but that excuse only stretches so far. Every scene change was well lit and done in full view of the audience. There was no music to cover over the shifting tables and it seems that no on had ever heard of a blackout. Moreover, when one character was pouring whiskey from a bottle that had liquid in it, he did not actually pour any into the glass. An odd choice, but what was worse was that he completely forgot how to pour. Miming pouring or drinking or putting something on should not be difficult, people do it every day and yet it completely escapes some actors on stage.
I know these points seem petty, but as with anything, if you can do the simple things well, you have surmounted half of your challenges.
I do think the play had potential, but it frustrated its own efforts in the way it represented itself. As with so many Fringe shows, it has potential but the script needs to be distilled and focused on one issue to being with. As it is, I enjoyed parts of it and found other parts a bit awkward. But at least it made the effort to speak about a difficult subject.