Camden Fringe 2019: Shards at Camden People’s Theatre
Set against the 2012 London Olympics and construction of The Shard, Catherine O’Shea’s contemporary play combines the challenges of dating, whilst holding fulfilling careers and living in the capital.
The front row is set with picnic blankets, while soft jazz music plays in the background. Matt (Karim Bedda) appears, stating the simple facts: “I am a man, I’m 30, I am a nurse.” Two other women emerge, protagonists Laura (Genie Kaminski) and Maya (Vanessa Toral Diaz), dancing with Matt and Victor (Robert Dukes), performing casual introductions, which is humorously interrupted with, “How kinky are you?”. These sequences portray the plethora of people on dating apps, and a scene that audience members find relatable. Atmospheric lighting by Irene Delfanti captures the intimacies of getting to know someone, as it dims in and out between the interactions.
Matt is Maya’s love interest, and together they are a swing couple, practising for the competition finals. Some of the best scenes are Bedda and Diaz’s sections – both dancers in real life – choreographed by Cat Foley, and fuelled with adrenaline. Diaz delicately balances the points between confessing her feelings and holding onto her pride, as Matt expectantly waits for a response from Laura. Having moved to London two months ago, the nurse is still new to the capital, and nervous about where to have his first date. Murmurs from pub punters are overheard, making the setting realistic, though the planned projection of The Shard is missing in tonight’s show, removed after a 30-minute delay with technical difficulties.
Laura is a physicist, in search of the Higgs boson with her colleague Viktor. Kaminski portrays the character’s passion with contagious energy; O’Shea’s writing is succinct, not convoluted or overly simplified and well-timed with Abbie Lucas’s direction. The chemistry between Bedda and Kaminski is palpable, and the four-piece display range in skill and connection with their characters. Laura and Matt’s burgeoning relationship is presented with poignancy and understanding, while Viktor’s constant sarcasm adds some funny drama, revealing feelings for Laura from a previous fling, though he eventually redeems himself.
Shards is funny and sad in equal measure, and a refreshing exploration of the modern dating scene. O’Shea’s inclusion of physics fits in perfectly; as Laura throws particles together to create a reaction, this can also be related to online dating, where random people interact hoping for some spark. The entire performance shines wholesomely, and this is a charming piece of writing from a new talent.
Photo: Samir Jeraj
Shards is at Camden People’s Theatre from 15th until 18th August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
For further information about Camden Fringe 2019 visit the festival website here.