Billy Liar

Silly Billy

Rating ***

20.00-21.55, The Space @ Venue 45

Billy Fisher is young and idealistic, constantly searching for something better for himself and dreaming of a job outside of his undertaker’s office. Mostly he achieves this means of escape by lying pathologically about anything and everything, hence the title of the play. The play explores his various relationships with family, friends and multiple lovers, questioning whether his dishonest behaviour will be his undoing. Set in Yorkshire, the standard of the actors’ accents must be praised.

The decision to play in the round was an interesting one, possibly precipitated by the shape of the space, but this meant that much of the action was lost to the audience on the ‘sides’ (though there shouldn’t be any in a circle). Perhaps if the production had been presented in more conventional manner the cast would have been able to focus their performance better. The space was, however, cleverly designed to include the front room, porch and garden and scenes were well split between these three locations.

The live music was a lovely addition, demonstrating the diverse array of talents present in this young company. Unfortunately not all the singing was as confident as that of Mary McDougall whose beautiful rendition of Dream Lover was a very welcome departure from her rather incessant, orange obsessed character.

Unfortunately I was constantly aware of the youth of the cast. Their commitment to the performance deserves recognition but was not sufficient to carry strength during some of the more tender moments in the play which would have benefited from some maturity and experience to really successfully execute. This caused quite a lull in pace in what was already a long play, exacerbated by the painfully uncomfortable audience seating. All credit to the creative and directorial team for making the decision to bring a school production to the Fringe, but on this occasion, I fear they do not quite hit the mark.


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