Heartlands

A new play by Dave Fargholi, Heartlands is a taut tangle of ethics and emotion for the modern age. Old friends Charlie (Joe Johnson) and Mari (Clare Ross) have gone their separate ways in life, until a single tweet sees a collision of their worlds. Now, trying to find a way out of the mess while keeping their hands clean, the pair are holed up again in the middle of a Scottish nowhere, with only each other for company.

Fargholi knows what he’s doing. Charlie and Mari are some of the most authentic original characters you’ll see this Fringe - he’s a leader of a humanitarian company, she’s now a successful actress, and they’re both fully-fledged people outside of that, with flaws, ambitions, and tics.

Fargholi knows what he’s doing. Charlie and Mari are some of the most authentic original characters you’ll see this Fringe - he’s a leader of a humanitarian company, she’s now a successful actress, and they’re both fully-fledged people outside of that, with flaws, ambitions, and tics. Both are brought to life with accomplished performances from Johnson and Ross - the history of their relationship is all there. We not only completely buy into their ten-year friendship; the flashbacks make us feel as if we’ve been there too.

Urban Fox are aware of the limitations of a short, small-scale Fringe performance and, because of this, the production is measured and clean-cut - but it’s not ambitious. While Charlie and Mari’s story of a PR stunt gone wrong holds some genuine intrigue, we are only shown the quiet, tense aftermath of the event. A lot of time is spent on subtle, but drawn out exposure of the event itself, and while the characters are wholly believable, it’s still hard to invest emotionally in their problems. It’s strange that Fargholi has featured a character who works for a humanitarian non-profit, yet the content of the play itself is two white, well-dressed, middle-class people worried they’ll lose their jobs.

Set to a beautiful original acoustic soundtrack by Rebecca Herd (arguably the standout aspect of the piece), Heartlands will likely hold your interest, but sadly left me cold.

Reviews by Caitlin Hobbs

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

When things fall apart, you go back home. Swept up in a public scandal, jaded humanitarian Charlie rehashes the past and hashtags his way to the moral high ground. Dark, daft, and subversive, Heartlands asks if optimism always has to break your heart. Urban Fox are an Edinburgh based collaborative producing inventive, intimate and provocative new writing. Heartlands is their third Fringe show, following successful runs with Globophobia (2013) and Safeword (2014). ‘This talented bunch are definitely going places’ (ThreeWeeks). ‘There really is something special here’ (Scotsman). 'A stunning, thought-provoking piece that has some quite fabulous performances' (The Stage).

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