Brighton Fringe Festival is England’s largest art festival, and returns this year in a hybrid format, with a mix of live and digital shows. Making their digital Brighton Festival this year is Aslant Theatre Company, who present their thought-provoking play, Echo/Chamber.
Written and directed by Antonia Georgieva and Oliver McFadden, Echo/Chamber is a contemporary story about the clash of opposites. Paul (Oliver McFadden) is a rich, successful businessman who likes to be in control, while Drew (Isaac Hesketh) is his complete opposite: a queer TikTok personality and activist who’s comfortable in his own skin. When Drew sneaks into his office one day, Paul begins to question his beliefs, and as the pair grow closer both of their lives are turned upside down.
Based on the Greek tragedy The Bacchae, Echo/Chamber is brought bang up to date with an interactive element which puts the audience at the heart of the play. Throughout the show viewers are given a number of choices to make, and these decisions control the direction of the story.
After a strong opening with a voice-over from Agatha (Sophia McLean) about truth, viewers are asked to make a choice about who they trust: Drew or Paul. As the show progresses this question is asked yet again, and it’s interesting to think about how perceptions – and potential biases – may change as we get to know the characters. The choose-your-own-adventure format is certainly a highlight of the show, and encourages you to watch more than once to see how much of an impact your choices make to the story as a whole.
Aside from one or two awkward camera angles which miss the action, the production values of this show are pretty impressive, with the alternating shots putting the focus solely on the character who is speaking. The quick cuts result in a pacy show which, along with a running time of just 45 minutes, leaves you wanting more.
Along with the choose-your-own-adventure format, Echo/Chamber’s strength is in its cast. Oliver McFadden and Isaac Hesketh have such great chemistry, which makes the characters’ sudden relationship believable, and both actors give strong performances. McFadden is great as the reserved, stifled businessman, and is a strong counterpart for Hesketh, who threatens to steal the show as the wonderfully confident performer Drew (there’s a performance of songs from Moulin Rouge the musical that you won’t forget in a hurry). Sophie McLean’s voiceovers are compelling and powerful, luring you in right from the very start. On the whole Echo/Chamber is a bold and engaging production with an innovative concept and impressive performances from the cast.
Echo/Chamber is available to stream until 27 June.