Five More Minutes is a promising start to what could be a thoughtful look into male friendship in high school, coming of age, and self-destructive decisions, although in its current form there’s a bit more work to do.
Nick, Sam, and Tom, best friends since kindergarten, have one more exam left before they’re finished high school and move on with their lives – that is, if they make to the exam. Through a non-linear plotline we see the string of bad choices that lead to their question of “will they make it?”
The performers have a great rapport and they really nail the exaggerated machismo of teenage boys trying to outdo each other. The relationship between the characters leads to an unpleasant revelation at the end that works perfectly within that established relationship, even though an introduces an internal conflict right at the very end without any time to develop or resolve it.
The script moves quickly, but that might be because the running time is only 25 minutes. The non-linear plotline works on a certain level – the constant back-and-forth between the night before, the morning of, and the afternoon after the exam creates a frenzied atmosphere that expresses well the panicked sensation of drinking too much the night before something important – but the question of “do they make it to the exam?” is much more an external conflict than an internal one and the non-linear plotline seems to be a way of generating tension in a conflict that ceases to matter once two of the three boys realize the other has betrayed them. If the creators expanded the script to include the fallout of that realization, they might not even have to change anything from the current version, except for one confusing element. An “Easy Button” from Staples sits at the foot of the stage with a sign saying “feel free,” and every time someone pushes it the action stops and the performers instead mime various acts such as milking cows and fishing while humming “Whistle While You Work” – the actors do say all of these activities out loud as they nervously pace the stage during the preshow, but otherwise the connection between this phenomenon and the rest of the play is unclear.
Fringe is a great testing-ground for work in development, and this show could certainly expand on itself to give a modern perspective on teenage masculinity and coming of age through betrayal, but Five More Minutes needs to say more things before it gets there.
Five More Minutes
A Dip in the Lake production
Written and Performed by Lucas Colwell, Riley Hardwick, and Alex Lamarre