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Fringe Review: Heaven ****

Michael Cox reviews a production filled 'with wit, humour and heart'.

Heaven doesn’t have the most exciting of premises: married couple Mairead (Janet Moran) and Mal (Andrew Bennett) see the other as a dear friend but are wanting more out of life. While attending a wedding, they begin to question where midlife has brought them and where they want to go.

As many storytellers have observed, it isn’t necessarily the story itself that impresses but the actual telling of the story, and herein lies Heaven’s strongest component: Moran and Bennett’s performances. Each are effectively performing a monologue apiece which is interspliced, and both actors are constantly compelling; it becomes a pleasure spending time with each—even if the stories both characters tell go down obvious routes.

Eugene O’Brien’s script has a rich way of words and allows both characters to go into interesting places (even if the destination is a bit obvious), and director Jim Culleton’s staging is understated: delicately balanced yet allowing for emotional crescendos that sometimes surprise. And both Moran and Bennett are brilliant, each giving humanity and a soul to their character. Without one interaction between them, you can clearly see how this is a couple that works wonderfully in friendship—as an audience we root for them both.

Heaven asks a lot of questions and has the nerve to not give all the answers. It does, however, perform with wit, humour and heart.

Heaven performs at the Traverse Two space at the Traverse Theatre as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Performances are at alternative times until Sunday Aug 27th. Image by Ste Murray.

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