Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Someone of Significance, Network Theatre, VAULT Festival ★★★★☆

Fresh, fast and forthright, Someone of Significance is a cutting-edge emotional drama sprinkled with comedy, politics and human insight. Rosie, a rising left-wing politician is caught in the leftovers of a romance with her former boss, the CEO of a Multinational Banking Corporation, Brad. The show asks us to reflect on the difference between the personal and the political, the private intimate and the very public professional lives we lead. Above all it asks us whether we truly can keep our professional lives seperate from who we date, especially when the things you’re fighting for conflict with the beliefs of the person you fall in love with. The piece is present and has a sense of urgency about it that asks us all to reflect on what holding a belief actually means. This a is a nascent piece of drama waiting to burst out – with a bit of tightening and tidying it could be something truly fantastic.

We begin at the start of Brad and Rosie’s relationship as they meet at work – Rosie, a working class Black woman from Crown Heights, is drowning in imposter syndrome whereas her white British boss Brad is down the rabbit hole of corporate capitalism. They share a tender moment at work’s Christmas party (all been there, not normally with your boss though), and we see as their relationship develops behind the scenes of their work together on corporate banking presentations and funding super malls. Complications arise quickly – Brad is married, we soon find out, yet still more than willing to undertake an affair on the basis of Rosie’s boundless ability to impress him both in the boardroom and the bedroom.

Rosie soon reveals she’s leaving – not only that, she’s running for Congress on a left-wing platform. She feels the calling to serve and represent her community against creeping gentrification, the kind of which her former employer was partially responsible for. Brad is heartbroken and feels the company is losing a major asset, but happy that Rosie is undertaking a career she loves. It isn’t long before they begin to clash, however, on the public stage. Their secret meetings become destined to doom one or both of their careers – but who will fall to the swing axe of such a big secret first?

The pacing of this piece, on the whole, is superb, and delivers strongly in the thematic department. Interspersed between the scene changes is audio from the likes of Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Jordan Peterson, evoking the fracture in American politics that exists, and framing well how Rosie and Brad fit into the tortured landscape of American corporate-political life. The scenes all encapsulate a great sense of feeling and emotion, capturing something intimate between Rosie and Brad that gives us deep insight into the way secret relationships operate and how they hamper and harm the feelings of people in their public lives. With regards to the pacing, however, the scene changes deature two clothing rails to which Rosie and Brad both change costumes almost every scene. This feels a little cumbersome, and could be tightened up, as some of the costume changes felt pertinent while other times you wondered why they needed to change into a different suit shirt or jacket.

The individual performances from Funlola Olufunwa as Rosie and Simon Bass as Brad are top notch in extracting the undulations of a relationship doomed from the start, and each are exceptionally believable as their respective archetypes. Olufunwa’s Rosie has a clear character arc demonstrated in her poise and position – initially Rosie is subordinate to Brad, timid but feisty when she feels she can get away with it. By the end of the show, her character stands with her shoulder back and delivers every word and move with a sense of purpose. She is a joy to watch, evoking the best of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Porter.

Simon Bass’ Brad grows from a confident corporate body into a whinging baby of a man, but with purpose and flow that allows us to see his downfall not just in negative terms, but genuinely as a man coming to realise his career and personal life can never quite match up. Bass’ characterisation and mannerisms are at times very funny and at others very believable – from a directorial standpoint however, a little more care could be taken to make sure the intonation of his voice matches what is being said, as it occasionally came off a little stiff and overly theatrical for the character he plays. Compared to the good moments of Bass’ performance, however, this is actually pretty minimal and Brad comes across as a three dimensional person throughout.

Their chemistry develops strongly in the latter acts of the play, although at the start it takes a little while to ease into, as I wasn’t sure how much I believed their relationship in the beginning. The resulting effect is something unique though, as the show goes on and the complexities reveal themselves we feel privy to a secret world, and this is a credit to Sam Tannenbaum’s direction. Amalia Kontesi’s script is measured and meaty, delivering impactful lines and thoughtful prose. The pace is oddly paradoxical, and luckily it pays off really well – the jumps between time make the piece seem super fast-paced, but in reality the romance is very much a slow burn, and this contrast adds to the entire world of contrasts and cracks we see forming around the couple as they progress through their lives.

With a little neatening here and there, this will be a top level piece of drama able to develop its’ clearly visible soul, smarts and spirit.

Boisterous yet brooding, smart yet tender, this is a dramatic exploration into the world of secret relationships that will have you wrapped up by the end in its’ charm and contemplation.

Recommended Drink: Grab a cheeky glass of champagne and take it up to your hotel room you naughty thing.

Catch Someone of Significance until Sunday 5th March at either 18:30, 18:00 or 14:30 (date dependent). Tickets are available through the VAULT Festival Box Office.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2024), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023-24), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them