Patrick McPherson’s The Way Way Deep takes centre stage in the Cowgate’s Underbelly this Edinburgh Festival Fringe with the writer and performer’s solo show proving itself as a compelling, prescient piece of theatre. Blending a performance of staggering energy and emotion with innovative music and lighting, The Way Way Deep is a true gem of the festival.
Examining the power of male friendships, self-identity and our relationship with violence, The Way Way Deep centres on the narrator running into former school friend, Jack, after seven years apart. The narrator chronicles his relationship with Jack from their childhood days, reminiscing his memories with an idealistic nostalgia. The pair embark on a night out with the narrator hoping to re-ignite their old antics of heavy-drinking, troublemaking and fighting.
The stage of Underbelly’s Belly Button is adorned with a simple wooden stool and a selection of hanging lighting poles. The lighting set-up is magnificently versatile with the beams of colour that fill them transporting us to the production’s rich variety of settings from childhood gardens to neon-tinged nightclubs. The sound and musical cues also complement Patrick’s performance impressively, further bringing these settings and the one-man show’s atmosphere to life. The lighting and sound touches are seamlessly integrated with Patrick’s performance to give The Way Way Deep an expansive scale, whilst not sacrificing any of the intricate human elements of the narrative.
Patrick’s central performance is one rich in musicality, with the star’s words settling themselves inside the production’s original music giving poignancy to observations ranging from the everyday to the profound. The performer’s enthusiasm, natural charisma and ability to tap into emotions in a discreet naturalistic manner helps to fully brings the audience along for the ride. Initially exploring the narrator’s nostalgia-soaked excitement at reconnecting with an old friend, The Way Way Deep delves into themes of male friendships and societal expectations of masculinity, resulting in some deeply challenging twists and turns. There’s a masterfully compelling performance at the heart of The Way Way Deep, beautifully unleashed by the actor.
The Way Way Deep makes some sharp observations about nostalgia and self-identity. Patrick’s narrator has shaped himself on Jack, holding his previously rowdy behaviour to a god-like epitome of the ideal man. Only breaking away from Jack’s spell in his university years and employment, the narrator finds these nostalgic emotions flooding back in. Reuniting with Jack unlocks a shade of melancholy, Jack is now a shadow of his former self – moderated and matured – something which is crushingly disappointing to the narrator’s dreams of troublemaking and fisticuffs. This element allows the writer-performer to delve into the psyche of the narrator, unleashing an impressively realised performance.
The Way Way Deep provides plentiful food-for-thought regarding masculinity, memories and self-identity channelled through a compelling performance from Patrick McPherson and some powerful staging attributes.
Get tickets for The Way Way Deep here.