Review: Giles (Brighton Fringe)

Giles has its roots as a French Canadian play by Frederic Blanchette, and has been translated and adapted for Zoom by Chris Campbell. The recording of this livestream is currently available on demand from the Brighton Fringe.

Two characters meet on a Zoom call. They live in different countries: Sophie (played by Edith Vernes) is in Paris; Richard (played by Campbell), is in London. They have regular weekly virtual date nights, where they sip wine and have a catch-up. Tongith, though, Richard has invited his best friend, Giles (played by Sam Alexander), to join them.

Sophie doesn’t like Giles. In fact, she loathes him, claiming he gives her the creeps. For Richard, this is a problem which leaves him torn between the woman he loves and the friend he would do anything for.

It is at the ten minute mark that we meet Giles, as he enters the Zoom meeting. He quickly comes across as a caring polymath, complimenting Sophie on her appearance and job, ordering expensive wine over the phone in the Italian he learned at speed, doing voluntary work in the community. He is perhaps a little too good to be true. He even wears an EU facemask to answer his front door.

Promotional image for Giles

When, in the final act, Sophie and Giles swap personal secrets which may bring them to a shared understanding, the play comes to an ending which feels more than a little contrived. The use of some of the language also betrays its origins as a play outside of the English language.

Directed by Marianne Badrichani, Giles is a gentle comedy of relationships and is well played by all three performers, especially by Alexander who has a difficult role to navigate.

Fringe rating: *** (and a half)

You can watch Giles at the Brighton Fringe until 27 June. Buy your ticket (from £5) here.