Review: Press at Pleasance Courtyard Below - Ed Fringe

Review by Carly Fisher


Returning to the Fringe after a 2021 premiere, Nathaniel Brimmer-Beller’s play Press is fresh, witty and all too real.


Its premise is one that would send shivers down the back of any publicist - just hours away from film award nomination announcements, two film producers anticipate that their film is on the brink of stardom. Until they realise that the film’s heroic lead character, played by a white actor, was, in historical fact, a Black man. And the potential career backlash of this needs no explanation…it is 2022 after all.


In this comedic yet poignant 1 hour play, we see two white females struggle with moral integrity vs personal success as they question how to stop the film - which has intentionally been star cast for the purpose of increasing profile and attention - from receiving any attention at all.


There is a strong chemistry between Kaia Hickson and Alexandra Clare which allows the pace and flow of the piece to be achieved gracefully. Though both offer strong performances, for me, Hickson sits more naturally in her role as the more experienced producer of the two who ‘has been in this industry for long enough to know that…’, whilst Clare takes on the role of the young but woke associate with fresh ideas and a greater command of social media and its power. Both offer dynamic performances that are extremely relatable.


The set is simple with the use of a single table between the two, two chairs and a selection of phones. It’s a perfect black box show because, whilst you could easily build the world around these two, for the purpose of this fringe, there is no need and the world of the piece is well established even if minimal.


The standout though is Brimmer-Beller’s writing. He writes with a sense of naturalism and urgency that makes these characters authentic representations of professional women in our time. The dialogue is fast paced, often witty and explanatory without ever overlooking the fact that the audience is well aware of the price of this mistake and does not need to be over indulged in details…cancel culture is alive and all too real for everyone in the room.


The direction is kept simple, likely due to the minimal opportunity for movement in the small space…there isn’t really anywhere major for the show to go physically and again, whilst it isn’t essential here, if this were to perhaps play a season, I think a slightly more intricate set design would allow for more differentiation in the blocking and physical landscape of the piece.


It’s shows like this that make the fringe such a great place to come to see new work - there are not enough stages for one hour comedies like this one outside of a festival, but I am very pleased to see that it has found a perfect home here at the fringe and, based on the audience’s reaction, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that should the company want to return the show next year, they will have an eager audience awaiting.

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