Against the Odds is not only a beautiful piece of Fringe theatre, but it is the type of show that would nourish and enrapture audiences of the professional theatre across this country as well. Performed by Jade Blue, Against the Odds is co-written and directed by Edinburgh Fringe veteran George Dillon and it only has one more performance at Neptune’s Studio Theatre as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival, so I strongly recommend that you get your tickets in advance and sell this one out.
This play tells the story of Flora, a young math prodigy with an undisclosed mental condition. She lives in a hospital and is waiting for her father, who she hasn’t seen in two and a half years. She spends the ensuing 52 minutes telling us about the four people in her life that she cares most about, amid musings and tangents about probability and numbers which shape her deeply perceptive and unique understanding of the world.
Jade Blue takes us vividly into Flora’s fascinating mind. We suddenly find ourselves in a world where numbers reign supreme and much is left up to power of chance. A lot of what Flora tells us is prompted by the numbers that she rolls with two dice. For Flora, numbers produce both memories and remembered facts, both of which seem to be held very close to her heart. Her candid detachment to the things that she relates is very striking and I think manipulates the way that the audience receives the information. She tells us we can tell how serious people are about their suicide plans by the location they choose on a railway and relates a horrific tale of abuse from her family history, in a startling matter-of-fact manner, but also with a sense of joy and triumph at the knowledge. She is fascinated by the human condition, but analytically, and through Flora, that interest transcends very easily into the audience.
Flora is also enchanted with the idea of storytelling because her father is a writer, and she has learned that the storyteller is able to control the way the story and its meaning is constructed in the ordering of the events. Order and control are obviously very important to Flora, which makes it that much more devastating to watch the world happen to her. Yet, she also puts her faith in the universe, allowing the audience to choose, via a deck of cards, the order in which she will tell us about the people she cares about.
Blue inhabits these four characters skilfully: Flora’s distant socialite mother, her rich Granddad, her father’s best friend and her fat aunt who dances and eats. Although each of these characters inhabits a sort of extreme, none of them are caricatures, and Blue portrays them with the same subtly and specificity that she gives to Flora. She is particularly gifted at bringing Flora’s mother, Charlotte, to life, and the relationship she creates between these two characters is so rich it’s a marvel that such dynamics can be woven by a single actor.
George Dillon ensures that Flora’s attention to order and detail dictate the strong organization of her story, placing each character represented in his or her own distinct space and repeating actions, like the rolling of the dice, with an eagerness that borders on compulsive. Much of Flora’s fragility that makes her such an endearing, but also tragic character is portrayed through movement and facial expressions, especially her grandiose gestures and unabashed, vulnerable grin. Along with the thoughtful use of lighting, the direction, the performance and the script all come together and hurdles toward a very poignant conclusion.
It is clear that we are fortunate to have Jade Blue in our midst. I strongly urge you to head down to Neptune’s Studio Theatre (1593 Argyle Street) and to attend her final performance.
Against The Odds plays Sunday, September 11th, 5:30pm, it runs 55 minutes and is $10.
To book advanced tickets please visit Neptune Theatre’s Box Office, 1593 Argyle Street or call 902.429.7070 or visit www.atlanticfringe.ca.