Framework Theatre’s ‘Framework Festival’ | Review By Lewis C. Baird

This week (3rd – 7th May) Framework Theatre presented their ‘Framework Festival’, a digital festival for emerging artists in Scotland. On offer were informative workshops and six brand new productions, two of them (‘Acting Appropriately’ and ‘Four Marys’) being live and the rest (‘Yours,’, ‘The Butterfly Effect’, ‘Roko’s Modern Life’ and ‘All I Ever Knew’) being pre-recorded for a variety of mediums. 

Unfortunately, due to prior commitments I was unable to attend the live performances, however, I was lucky enough to be invited to review all the pre-recorded productions. Check out my review of those productions below: 

Yours, – 

Jennifer Galt’s piece presented in the form of a Letter, email or voicemail is one which is very honest and truly immerses the listener/reader in the emotion and complexity of the character’s situation. 

Jennifer performs the short monologues (in the voicemail versions) with such emotion, this could be due to how her writing relates to her personally, but with that it makes the piece even more effective for the listener. The writing does not feel performative and is very grounded, giving the piece such realism causing the listeners/readers to have an emotional connection. 

The situation its self is something which I am sure many listeners/readers will be able to relate and engage with. Longing to re-connect with someone who has long left your life and saying things which you failed to declare before you departed from each other’s lives is a common situation. 

This piece using the mediums of voicemail, email or letter to immerse the listener/reader in the conversation is very effective and it latches the “audience” members emotionally to the character for the true intimacy that these mediums deliver. For me I found this piece very interesting and something which really worked in this rather innovative use of these forms of communication. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

‘All I Ever Knew’ – 
‘All I Ever Knew’ is a multimedia performance surrounding the characters of ‘her’ and ‘him’. Artistically it’s a great blend of mediums to give some originality to the entrapments of digital performance. 
In terms of substance, visually it’s stunning, the music chosen to accompany the visual elements of the piece is apt and also sets up a contemporary and somewhat casual vibe to the layout of the performance. 
The initial dialogue in the film section of the performance feels forced and rather heightened. This clearly leaves the actors disconnected with the material, and rather jolts the audience until the natural dialogue begins around a minute in. Yet there is still moments where the female character doesn’t land due to poetic dialogue which fails to conjure much substance until we are hit with the character’s truth. Even then it feels the buildup could have been approached with more consistency in terms of the writing.  

However, the portrayal of ‘her’ from Josie Young (who also writes the piece) carries the appropriate emotion, and nuances that bring a sense of realism to the character. That being said, as much as there was issues with the text, there are definite moments where in terms of the portrayal there was a disconnection with the character’s true pain or admittance. It felt as if the featured themes and issues were being approached perhaps too casually in terms of emotion. 
With the sections featuring ‘him’, there’s a much more understandable and consistent journey supplied through Josie’s writing. In terms of Padraic Riddle’s performance the emotion was clear. Through Padraic’s performance, the journey of ‘him’ was relatable and at points he delivered a dark undertone to contrast the bright cinematography. This is something which could have possibly been portrayed more in the journey of ‘her’. 
In terms of direction, through all mediums this project was stunning. Possibility visually the most beautiful digital piece I have seen produced in Scotland over the past year. 
Overall, this was a great digital experience which was easy to navigate and featured great artistic expression from the creators and performers. At points it perhaps leaned too heavily on attempting to be poetic which resulted in moments being rather hollow in terms of substance. However, for The Renegade Ensemble they have created a greatly colourful and artistic digital production. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

‘The Butterfly Effect’ – 
An interactive digital performance you say? Count me in! 
Watching ‘The Butterfly Effect’ was a joy! Theres some great merger of genres featured with really out there plotlines which feel like they would fit right into Waller-Bridge’s ‘Fleabag’ and then to contrast theres moments which could belong in ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’. 
The comedy featured is great. Also, for a limited cast, Sanna Salán and Juuso Nykänen’s diverse performances are truly brilliant. The confessional camera sections were hysterical and truly added another level to the performance. Plus, that plot twist! A great example of lighthearted viewing featuring an important message. 
Sanna and Juuso produced a superb script with high quality direction and slick editing. A fantastic production which proves the true potential of digital productions.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘Roko’s Modern Life’ – 
Podcasts and radio plays are really taking off right now. ‘Roko’s Modern Life’ plays into that with Paulina Tomaszewicz’s superb satire monologue which almost feels like you’ve got The Doctor from ‘Doctor Who’ raiding your brain. 
Paulina’s performance of Roko is hysterical and filled with comical nuances. It’s a great portrayal. The styles range from sci-fi/technological jargon to something which resembles an ASMR video, and then a moment which assesses the human race’s behavior. 
One thing which is prominent is the contemporary delivery and writing. It’s relevant and truly engaging. Roko is well rounded, bonkers, funny, philosophical and not in the slightest bit preachy because the dialogue flows so naturally. 
A well-produced and strong audio production. Cannot wait to see/hear more work from Paulina Tomaszewicz. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I consider Framework Festival to be an important step in the right direction and a great platform to not only nurture emerging artists but also showcase their talent and potential. This is something that Scotland was sorely missing. Framework Festival is delivering more opportunities to develop our theatre industry and give new artists a strong stepping stone. Not only that but the full repertoire of the festival was contemporary featuring content which young audiences from varied demographics can truly enjoy. The full team at Framework Theatre and everyone involved should be proud for the work they have put in to make this a reality. 

Looking forward to seeing what’s next for Framework Theatre and the Framework Festival. 

Framework Theatre’s Website –

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