Sweet @ C, Edinburgh

cast list
Jake England Johns, Rebecca Devitt, Matt RogersChotto Ookiis Sweet bills itself as an anti-romantic comedy, an antidote to the usual saccharine stories where a happy ending is mandatory.

Fizzing with visual invention, the show sets out to tell a love story that doesn’t begin with a kiss and end with the distant chime of wedding bells.

A man tick-tocks the day away in a drab job. Bedraggled of beard, with his shirt forever untucked and his tie permanently askew, hes not the greatest catch.
But he has a heart, a hungry, throbbing thing, and he falls for a woman who bakes cakes, who makes sweet things in her kitchen, and he is so captivated with her that he freezes solid while stood outside her window (and she has to thaw him out with a hair dryer).

The idiosyncratic blossoming of their affection is overseen by the mans friend, a long-limbed dipsomaniac who makes a beeline for anything that he suspects of having an alcohol content. Occasionally he pauses time to assist in their burgeoning romance, tinkering with fate like a god in a Greek Tragedy.

With very little dialogue, the story is told through dance and shadows and balloons and via tiny little cloth puppets which are lovingly manipulated. In one beautifully executed moment their boozy cupid suddenly curls up into a ball and becomes the embodiment of the mans fluttering, nervous heart. Its an utterly delightful moment in a show full of many such touches.

Their set consists of three moveable white screens and appears to have been made out of canvas, blu tack and string on a budget of about ten pence, but this simplicity is part of the productions considerable charm. Though basically staged on one level, in other ways its very slickly executed.

The three man cast throw themselves, literally on occasion, into their roles. Jake England Johns and Rebecca Devitt are captivating as the central couple and Matt Rogers is entertainingly physical as their tipsy yet watchful companion.

Admittedly there are times when the company’s enthusiasm outstrips the actual results and not everything they attempt comes off; at times they’re in real danger of being cute.

There must be dozens of productions on at this years fringe that blend puppetry, music and movement in various ways, why it’s all but obligatory in some quarters, but it’s the mix of the sinister and the endearing that makes this one stand out from the crowd.

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