Berlin ★★★ Etcetera Theatre | August 23 - 27, 2022

This sixteenth Camden Fringe presents a wide variety of theatrical experiences across twenty venues in North London. Showcasing the unconventional and the innovative, it serves as an important incubator for new talent. Berlin written by Holly Whinney is a fine example of why such festivals are important. This is compelling theatre that tells the story of a Britpop band who come together three years after the death of their lead singer. James, Martin, Nick and Ben reunite in the German capital and explore their interpersonal dynamics while attempting to come to terms with Harry's suicide. It's an intriguing premise and promises to be a thoughtful look behind the façade of celebrity. It has been said about Jane Austen that she never wrote a scene with only men present, the explanation being that she could never have witnessed such an interaction herself. Holly Whinney takes on the task of writing a whole play with only male characters, and she creates dialogue that is both sharp and authentic. Indeed, the strength of this work is the realistic portrayal of relationships among well-drawn characters. The quality of the performances varied, but we particularly liked Tarik Badwan's take on the sensitive and self-abusive guitarist, Nick. For us, the principal problem of the work was the arc of development. Things start very slowly but the conclusion seems rushed and unnecessarily crammed with incident. The timeline becomes confusing and the intended theme is unclear. Despite this sense that Berlin is still a work in progress, it is a fine example of exceptional young talent and an excellent demonstration of why Fringes are so important to the emergence of new theatre.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by J.C.

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