Some things you don’t see coming. Directed by Louise Jameson and written by Nigel Fairs, Ebeneezer and Me is to use the cliché, a play of two halves. Actually that’s a rather simplistic description. The first and second acts are very different in tone, but the gradual change from the witty beginning to Fairs’ denouement makes the ending all the more powerful.
The play begins with ‘Luddite’ Alan (Fairs) talking to his young companion about retrieving deleted messages from his ‘brick phone’. We sense that Alan and the ‘boy’ have had a shared past, some sort of relationship – though we’re unsure the exact nature of this is. Lovers perhaps? At this stage who knows…. While we’re pondering over this, Alan discloses that he’s going to ask someone to marry… a woman, a celebrity who has made her name and fortune from her toxic remarks – irrespective of whether they’re true or not. Of course the fiancée-to-be is modelled on a real high-profile public figure, and the character arc that she undergoes lends the play a Black Mirror-eseque reality.
Playing ‘Beattie Queensbury’, the woman in question, Abi Harris is deliciously unrepentant. While she displays a glimmer of humanty from time to time, it is quickly obfuscated by her true nature which rises to the surface. Her Dickensian deficit of charity and empathy is the reason Alan ‘christens’ her ‘Ebeneezer’: it would take a lot more than Seasonal Spirits to shift her perspective…
Fairs’ Alan is ‘the man you don’t see coming’. Unassuming, inoffensive, his social naivety is endearing to Beattie and the reason why she tolerates him and vice versa – or does he…?
On one level Ebeneezer and Me is a fantasy about confronting undesirable personalities in the media and the ramifications of homophobia. However, in a more general sense, the play represents today’s divided Britain, and the anger at reactionary comments and actions made with impunity. There is a ‘cause and effect’ to everything…
© Michael Davis 2017
Ebeneezer and Me runs at the Space Arts Centre until 5th February 2017.