Review: Ansel and Gretchen (Edinburgh Fringe, online)

Kaitlyn Frotton and Alastar Dimitrie write and perform in this forty-five minute piece about siblings and human connection. He is Ansel, she is Gretchen, American brother and sister. Only available until 22 August on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s Fringe Player, Ansel and Gretchen is about how closeness often breeds contempt, and the comic potential of such situations.

The characters have already taken form within a web series (ten episodes of an average of five minutes each). Even without seeing that you will pick up from this short play that this brother and sister have issues and trauma to deal with, and have questions around the relationship they enjoy now.

If you know your fairytales you will remember the story of Hansel and Gretel, as written by the Brothers Grimm. That has the themes of being abandoned, being in danger, and looking out for each other. If this tale has any bearing on Ansel and Gretchen, with his irritating habits and her neurouses, I really didn’t see it.

Production image for Ansel and Gretchen

The filiming is extremely basic, with one camera and poor sound; in fact it is sometimes the case that the laughter of one particular audience member is more noticeable than the vocal performance of the actors. This show desperately needs a close-up or a bit of context to keep the interest of those watching at home.

I recommend you take a look at the web series, which you can view here, and have to treat this play version, in the form presented here, as something of a curio. There wasn’t enough detail to pull me in as a digital viewer, and any complexity within the script was not presented at its best. This feels, unfortunately, like a missed opportunity.

Fringe rating: *.5

You can stream Ansel and Gretchen until 22 August at the Edinburgh Fringe: book your tickets here.

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