The Dip builds on the starting point of a young man called Al trying to express his attraction to his friend Nic; this plunges Al into a surreal and nonsensical world filled with characters who are as unbelievable as they are amusing. It’s more than a little challenging to pin down a single “message” in this piece, but there is a clear element of pointing a finger at the world’s habit of forcing people into boxes that they don’t necessarily want to be in.
Within the genre of LGBT storytelling, it’s challenging to overlook the fact that death and pain are all too frequently treated as an inevitable cornerstone of same sex romantic storylines, as though it’s impossible for these to exist without some form of eventual grief. Even here at the Edinburgh Fringe, the majority of theatre telling the stories of same sex couples seems to fall back onto some kind of loss, all too frequently caused by the sexuality of the characters. This piece takes the direct opposite approach. Directed by Eifion Ap Cadno, The Dip manages to never rely on causing its characters unnecessary pain, instead successfully endeavouring to explore the highs and lows of personal discovery without settling comfortably into tragedy. While the painful stories must always be told, this play fills the important niche of reminding us that it is possible for LGBT people to exist without inherent sadness.
It’s rapidly evident that this alternate universe reflects something of Al’s internal turmoil, as he tries to come to terms with and accept his own feelings. Through the use of clowning techniques and a general acceptance to apparently include more or less anything that made the cast laugh in the rehearsal room, the six actors build a world that doesn’t quite align with our own, but one that is unexpectedly easy not to question. Words seem to possess the power to trigger both events and seismic shifts in tone, with only Al able to process the absurdity of the things happening around him.
While it would be hard to honestly criticise the play’s concept, at times The Dip walks a little too close to becoming unjustifiable mayhem. There were a few points that just didn’t feel like they made sense in either our world or the world of the characters.
There are always two ways to respond to life’s moments of chaos. Either we can try to impose order and force reason upon it, or we can accept it, and allow ourselves to laugh with it. The Dip invites us to do just this. It’s impossible that everything will always make sense, so why should we attempt to force it to? Here, internal chaos is presented as a force that we’re encouraged to laugh with. With no real logical thread connecting one event to the next, The Dip exists only on its own terms, and that’s a significant part of its magic.
The Dip is on at the Fringe until August 25th