It has not been an easy year for Time and Again Theatre Company, who lost all of their material resources due to catastrophic arson attacks earlier this year. It’s a testament to the company’s resilience that they have brought a high quality production, Earwig, to Edinburgh Fringe.
The show follows deaf protagonist Marigold Webb, and it is written by Laura Crow whose hearing was damaged after contracting meningitis as a child. Directed by Catherine Cowdrey and Samantha Vaughan, Earwig’s natural habitat is the Assembly Rooms (Front Room) until 27th August.
Set in the roaring twenties, Marigold lives in a culture that does not care to accommodate for her deafness. Her interest in beetles provides her comfort, but her mother and husband have different ideas about how she ought to behave. Pursuing her ambitions with or without the respect of those around her, Marigold’s journey illustrates the societal obstacles of the early-twentieth century affecting deafness, gender and class.
Earwig’s structure, flow and aesthetic are ingeniously inspired by silent movies, jazz music and the art deco movement, and minor anachronisms give the show a modern edge. This edge adds political dramatic irony, celebrates the influential aspects of 1920s culture, and indicates the social parallels between the present day and a century ago. The balance is perfect.
BSL is cleverly incorporated to provide a more accessible performance whilst enhancing the animated characters and emotional plot points. Laura Crow’s projection design executed by technician Sammy Wells creates a colourful palette for the production, and the acting is no less vibrant.
Robyn Greeves’ subdued energy as Marigold expresses her introverted character, and a passion for divulging in insect facts makes her radiate with a fascinating enthusiasm. Beth Nolan plays the well-intentioned Bryony Varden and Marigold’s frantic mother Mrs. Meadows. Marigold’s stern husband Nicholas Webb and flamboyant friend Thomas Dollman are played by Adam Martin-Brookes. The characterisations are exuberant, but they all exhibit leagues of depth.
With less than a week of this year’s Fringe still to go, Earwig is a beautiful and charming production that has a lot to love – best catch it before it crawls away!