Review: Nana and Paige (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Nana is lonely and frustrated two weeks into the COVID pandemic as her daughter won’t allow her to leave the house. On a Zoom call with grand-daughter Paige the two start to plan some kind of freedom, but at what cost, and will the family ever be the same again?

Filmed entirely on Zoom, whether depicting calls or trips in the car or out into the garden. Regina Frod’s production, now streaming in the Online@TheSpace platform at the Edinburgh Festival fringe, has just four cast members and sometimes feels a bit hesitant as far as acting goes.

As lockdown dramas are starting to feel as if they are relics of the past rather than the present, it is tempting to view Nana and Paige as simply the work of a moment’s world pause.

Promotional image for Nana and Paige

Debra Vassallo has written a play very much of its time, with Nancy Ekstrum as Nana, Kira McNeill as Paige, Richard Michael Thompson as Officer Johnson, and Diana Ouradnik as Melissa (Paige’s mom). At just forty minutes it packs in a lot around health, politics, and families, but I struggled to really connect with it, especially at the point where Nana and Paige try to connect over their joint interest in demonstrating for what feels right.

This is a very white, middle-class, view of the contemporary USA, in which people may well be ‘woke’ to what is going on around them but not really that empowered to do anything about it. One twist in the tale is frankly bizarre, while the ending feels overly forced and sentimental. However, the panic of a demonstration which turns nasty is well portrayed.

There are no particular tricks on show here, and in a couple of scenes it is very clear we are in a show with Zoom backgrounds where the actors are filmed in different locations. Nana and Paige is a decent enough show, but there is nothing really new and groundbreaking here in the depiction of three family generations, and Nana is perhaps the most interesting character on the screen.

Fringe rating: ***

You can stream Nana and Paige at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on YouTube, follow the link here.

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