Starting out in London’s fringe theatre scene, which is already bursting at the seams with new and budding talent, is never an easy enterprise and my hat goes off to anyone willing to try it. That includes Frigg Theatre, and emerging playwright Disa Andersen.
Andersen’s play Is This Thing On? is earnest, brave and vulnerable – a seventeen year old’s reminiscences of a turbulent and abusive relationship with an older man. Recounted part through monologue, part through action and part through choreography, the show is both cleverly ambiguous and genuinely moving.
However, it is the first production of a very young company and as such is far from a finished product. The incorporation of choreography is still a little clumsy and while Andersen is no doubt a talented playwright, both the structure and the ending of the play feel in need of further development. Minimal set and props only add to this sensation of a work-in-progress, not something quite ready to be a professional production.
Andersen herself takes on the main role of Joanna, supported by Joshua Stretton and Julie Vaapenstad Holm as Joanna’s boyfriend and acerbic best friend, respectively. All are good, and the chemistry between Stretton and Vaapenstad Holm is very convincing, but none of the characters feel fully realised.
There is much to celebrate in this performance, and with more time, experience and dare I say budget, Frigg Theatre is certain to move in a strong direction. This Thing is definitely on, but still has a fair way to go.