EdFringe 2022 Review: The Silver Bell

“…fusion of naturalistic LGBTQ+ romance and well-thought out science fiction strikes a winning combination…”

A LGBTQ+ story with a sci-fi kick impresses in Pleasance delight The Silver Bell which takes residence in the Pleasance Courtyard this Edinburgh Fringe. Alan Flanagan and Brendan O’Rourke lead the project, also penned by Flanagan, which examines the lengths one would go to reconnect with a lost love one presented in a naturalistic, humorous and ultimately, deeply touching manner.

Scientist Mico (Flanagan) meets aspiring rising James (O’Rourke) with the pair quickly falling in love and jumping through the typical relationship hoops – dates, nights out, moving in, and meeting a vast array of interesting characters in their respective circles. This routine is dealt a devastating blow as James begins to suffer health problems, soon revealed to be Motor Neuron Disease. After the situation worsens, Mico decides to travel through a variety of parallel universes in the hope of finding his perfect James and restoring his sadly cut-short relationship.

A play of two quite distinct acts, Flanagan spends the first half quietly building up the rapport and history of Mico and James. It’s a bumpy love-story packed with anecdotal qualities and playful memories. There’s a natural charm as the pair cheekily squabble over specifics of stories or the order of which they should be told. Thanks to vibrant performances from Flanagan and O’Rourke, we are drawn into the naturalistic relationship of Mico and James – it is a pairing that is presented in an honest manner, believable and elegantly pitched by both actors, allowing us to form a strong emotional attachment to their story.

O’Rourke packs a sarcastic charm into the role of James, but there’s a warmth and quiet adoration for Mico that trickles through. The actor brings an Irish charm to the role, injecting it with a sharp humour yet immediate likeability. Flanagan impresses with some gradual emotional heavy-lifting, an impressive counter to more extroverted James, the actor quietly peels back the layers of Mico revealing a tender emotional side as the narrative progresses.

As it reaches around the halfway point, The Silver Bell reveals its sci-fi cards. Presenting its science in a ‘For Dummies’ manner, Mico travels through multiple universes to be reunited with James. Exploring an analogy on the world of modern dating – continual swiping until a non-existent perfect option is found, The Silver Bell also makes interesting points about moving on from grief and moving on with life.

The Silver Bells fusion of naturalistic LGBTQ+ romance and well-thought out science fiction strikes a winning combination. Welcome humour and a heart-wrenching emotion is channelled in two stellar performances which make this two-hander a Fringe delight.

The Silver Bell plays at the Pleasance Courtyard until August 28th. Get your tickets here.

Photo credit Paul Phipps-Williams

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