Immolation: an Original Concept
When a play starts with an extremely graphic murder-suicide, you go from not knowing anything about the story to even less. Immolation does answer all of the questions it raises, but it certainly takes its time about it.
The aforementioned murder-suicide starts of this show with a violent, dark tone that remains throughout. We eventually learn that Kit and Kes, the two that we see onstage, have lived thousands of lives together and apart, and they’ve spent the last several centuries tracking each other down and killing each other, only to be reborn somewhere else in the world the next day.
This is definitely one of the more original concepts I’ve seen at Fringe this year, and playwright Caitlin Corbett has made the right choice in not dwelling too long on it. Rather, she takes a more existential approach and turns this play into a locked-room drama, focussing on the long relationship between two seemingly immortal characters who loved each other before they became bitter enemies.
There are some weaknesses in the script – it becomes very clear early on that Kit blames Kes for something that happened in a previous lifetime, but the wait for the explanation is so long that when it does happen it’s almost a surprise. As well, there’s a clear power struggle between the two but Kes goes into frequent monologues that, while evoking the fatigue that comes from millennia of existence, slow down the immediate plotline for a few minutes each time.
Dramatic tension is extremely important in this show, and while it does lag at points actors Corbett and William Beddoe are extremely comfortable with their roles; they really do feel the strong emotions that such an unusual situation requires. Beddoe in particular has the (still) unfamiliar perspective of playing a male survivor of sexual assault, and while the content itself is cringe-inducing and shocking Beddoe gives the believable mixture of pain and anger that you would expect.
This show may not be quite there, but it’s pretty close. Look out for Corbett’s next offering.
A Here Be Dragons Production
Written by Caitlin Corbett
Directed by Nicolas Alain
Starring Caitlin Corbett, William Beddoe
Sound Design by Nicolas Alain
Stage Manager: Sarah Patrick
Fight Direction by Will Lafrance
Blood Consultant: Patrice-Ann Forbes
Poster/Logo Design: Xander Conn