• Mon. Dec 11th, 2023

“If I could change one thing, I’d change…”. This opening thought by the Mind as he inspects his partner, the Body, opens Spool with the impression that the next 50 minutes are going to be an exploration of the imperfections we all can recognise in ourselves. This relatable topic is an exciting one, and the exploration of the separate entities that together make us human has so much promise. Instead, however, we are presented with a performance that lacks in material, falling short by literally half an hour.

This play has so much potential but sadly feels sparse. Spool is such a wonderful concept: the philosophical nature of it, as they explore the relationship between the mind and body, along with how, despite some issues with one another, it is clear that they are better together than apart. The idea of the Body and Mind separating is a clever one, particularly when it’s deliberated in a similar manner to a divorce. This depiction is particularly strengthened by the amusing and erotic undertone that previously appears in the first scene (though sadly only appears again at the end). Together, the comical Body and curious Mind are at their strongest. It is when they are apart, however, that the play’s strength begins to wane. The first scripted interaction between Mind and Body is hilarious. The bedroom scene is an ingenious representation of how trivial sex can become when your mind overcomes your body. This idea of overthinking the littlest things and allowing anxiety to set in is one thing that men and women (although particularly men) perhaps don’t like to admit. The upbeat, hilarious interaction between the two of them not only feels realistic, but it’s something that this production could absolutely explore in more detail.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this play is the lack of it: despite being sold as a 50-minute show, the play ends after only 25 minutes. Once more, the actors seemed to take a while to fully assume their roles: and by the time they do that, the show is already finished. Once more, what seems impossible to comprehend is that there are scenes that somehow go on to for too long. No matter how funny Body’s dance sequences are, they are not enough to save the opportunity they have missed. There are so many aspects and conflicts in everyday life that could be explored. Unfortunately, Mind and Body almost seem too scared to explore their independence, before running back to one another.

It’s hard to highlight so many negative aspects of Spool, especially when there are a number of great moments within the play: however, these great moments only have a lasting impression when they fit well into a fully constructed and devised play. Otto Farrant and Finn Cooke are undoubtedly talented performers and good at what they do, and so it is a shame that they do not have enough material (and time!) to prove this to us.

Furthermore, Spool, becomes more of a blueprint of an ingenious idea: all it needs is to be filled with further exploration of this existential… and much longer! Otherwise, the “conversations” promised by the show’s synopsis sadly end up being mere afterthoughts.

Greenside, 20.50pm, final show tonight
Tickets available at: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/spool

Photo credit: © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

By Beth Blakemore

Former Senior Culture Editor (2016-7) and Fringe Editor (2017). MSc student researching the Spanish Baroque. Most likely to be found in either the library or bailando in El Barrio.

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