Pandas, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Thursday 28 April 2011
Having exchanged 536 emails and 72 jpegs, Lin Han and Jie Hui finally meet. Their first date is in Edinburgh's Meadows, when the cherry trees are in blossom. Unfortunately, this does not bring the required romance to the occasion. She is adamant that they should fall in love, right now, because they are at the optimum age and share a compatible level of attractiveness. He is reluctant to make a life-changing commitment just before an important meeting.
At said meeting, James, the back-street Alan Sugar with whom Jie Hui is importing panda-patterned rugs, is shot in the backside. Investigating the incident is Andy. The chief suspect is Madeleine, James's ex. Being a detective, it does not take Andy long to work out that James has been seeing Julie, who dumped him last night.
Rona Munro shoehorns a big, daft plot into this charming new romcom. The writing sparkles, the dialogue bounces off the cherry trees that frame the set. The director, Rebecca Gatward, cleverly does not demand any great physical pyrotechnics from her cast. She doesn't need to. The script does the work.
Meg Fraser must have punched the air when she was cast as Madeleine, the spurned entomologist who may or may not have taken an air rifle to her feckless ex. It is a peach of a part, featuring a masterful soliloquy that takes in her desire for Andy, her loathing for James's wobbling posterior and her refusal to be defined by her workwear. "I might wear a fleece, you bastard," she roars, "but I can take it off. Where are you going to hang up your fat arse?"
Fraser and the other grown-ups are so strong that the young couple feel a little flimsy. Crystal Yu as Lin Han is sweetly literal and single-minded but Siu Hun Li can't push through a certain stageyness. But his over-enunciated vowels are a minor flaw in a hugely enjoyable night out.
To 7 May (0131 228 1404)
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