CW: Mention of suicide.
Crossing The Void is a dark, exhilarating glance into the vast chasms created by grief, guilt, and isolation. An impressive Fringe debut for Edinburgh-based theatre company Koi Collective, in collaboration with scriptwriter Sally MacAlister, Crossing the Void is a brave premiere, which profoundly explores the fracturing of old friendships, in a sensationally supernatural light.
Set in the dingy confines of an uninhabited Edinburgh flat, the performance follows the reunification of five young women a year after the suicide of their friend Hannah (briefly, Eilidh Barn). Ex-flatmates and close-childhood friends of Hannah, Finn and Abby (Amelia Fleur Yayici and Georgia-Lee Roberts) are joined by her sister Josie (Robyn Reilly) and the mysteriously distant Charlie (Evie Mortimer), as the group gather together to hold a séance in hope of finding closure, comfort, or something hidden in-between. To guide them through their amazon-basics kit of sorcery, is Lorna (Zara Louise Kennedy), the mystically minded outsider, who leads the call to the other side. What unfurls over the next hour is a deeply atmospheric, one-room drama, which gathers compelling momentum and a host of supernatural twists and turns.
Guided by director Grace Baker, Koi Collective offer impressive, emotionally driven performances, which convey the messy dynamics of a grieving friendship group. Roberts presents Abby with well-poised naturalism, where her bubbling emotional wreckage is masked, for the most part, against a cool exterior, intent on bringing a sense of sophistication to the séance of her dead friend.
Likewise, Reilly brings a convincing nervousness to the character of Josie, whose anxious disposition builds the backbone of the tense unravelling of the plot. As emotions become heightened, Mortimer, who plays Charlie, leads a number of increasingly fraught confrontations, which she performs with an impressive emotional range and stamina.
Stand-out performances are given by Kennedy and Yayici, whose characters set the tone for the supernatural, dark, and yet surprisingly humorous quality of the performance. Perfectly bridging an entertaining parody of 21st-century dark-magic obsessed teenage girls with an eerie, mystic edge, Kennedy brings Lorna to life with a constant host of raised eyebrows, sneers, and twitches. Yayici meanwhile brings a delightfully comedic element to the play. Never over-performing, she effortlessly brings together the group, with a dark wit and immediate charm, which adds a light relief to the play.
Merging the on-stage plot line with multimedia clips, the sound and lighting design (led by Lewis Gemmell and Marco Merone) is worth mentioning, as they added a well-rounded depth to the performances. At its strongest, MacAlister’s script was a suspenseful drama, unafraid to explore a heavy range of emotions, from raw stricken grief to a supernatural and suspenseful fear. At points though, the pacing of emotional outbursts made the underlying plot slightly unclear, and it was difficult to follow the relationships between the characters throughout – with each seeming to swap into the misunderstood outlier at varying points. Perhaps stripping back some of the arguments which erupt on stage, would enable a clearer exploration of the central plot. That said, the final twist was nonetheless effective, and made good use of the supernatural elements of the performance.
As they gathered on stage at the end of the play, the Koi Collective were ambushed as the recipients of the Derek Award for Best Drama at the Edinburgh Fringe 2022. A well-deserved accolade, the award certainly marks out the company as ones to watch. Their impressive debut, Crossing the Void, is a good place to start.
Catch Crossing the Void on August 26th at TheSpace on the Mile.
Images courtesy of Liam Smith.