Not Falling was all over the place. It felt like the play itself has Parkinson’s. Not to make light of Parkinsons. The work is premised on a degenerative disease, so it’s not a cheap shot. In fact it could be used to good effect, if it didn’t feel unintentional.
The script is a bit thin, but it has its moments, and there are meaningful repetitions underscoring the fear Maddie (played by Bethany McLachlan-Evans) has of inheriting it from her mother, and how it inserts itself in relationships.
The relationship between Maggie and her lover, Alexis (played by Lilitha Tsetsana) drives the story, but Tsetsana’s depiction of the ambitious doctor, supposed to reflect the calculated profit-making in the medical industry, is unconvincing. These scenes are farcical, which, while they could do with being tinged by farce, require a measure of realism to evoke empathy. This does not assist the occasional shifts from drama into dance, particularly in one scene: A compelling dancer, Maddie at one point breaks from a juddering failure of nerve endings into graceful movement, with no signal that this may be a dream or imaginative sequence. A simple change of lighting could do wonders.
Other niggles bedevil the play: Among other things, they exit the room for a walk but Maddie walks out in her socks. At least twice.
The notes to the play mention Brittany Spears, and Taylor Swift, giving us a heads up to pop culture being our characters’ backdrop, but at times there was a lack of balance between the soundtrack and the voice. Things became hard to hear. The Glennie Hall stage felt too big. The set, simple as it is and should be, not having received enough attention, looks rather slapdash. Details were not attended to.
Yet, on a cold festival night in front of seven adults and one distracted toddler, Mclachlan-Evans and Tsetsana gave it their all. But try as they might, there were just too many cracks to fall into.
Not Falling plays at the National Arts Festival on 27 July at 6pm.
Performed by Bethany McLachlan-Evans and Lilitha Tsetsana, directed by Juliette Rose-Innes who also wrote the play, with choreography by Amber Morgan.