I have been excited and vocal about Renard Press and their beautiful publications since they started last year, and I am very excited to be the latest stop on the blog tour for the first title in their playscripts series, Fridge by Emma Zadow.
Here's a quick synopsis of the story:
" Alice hasn't been home for a while - for seven years in fact. But when her little sister Lo tries to take her own life, she has to return to the life she left behind. The change of scenery from London to Norfolk proves quite the culture shock, however, and Alice has to confront what she left behind all those years ago.
The sisters' relationship hasn't evolved in Alice's absence, and when she steps through the door she's plunged back into the same world she escaped from. Set against Norfolk's bleak landscapes, but masquerading as childhood nostalgia, Fridge is an all-too-familiar exploration of the broken promises of youth, and a bitter exposition of a generation left behind."
It's been a long time since I read a playscript - something I think I have in common with a lot of other stops on this tour, but I adore the theatre, my husband has worked in theatres for over a decade and reading Fridge brought back to me how incredible and transformational theatre productions can be, and how much I miss going!
I loved the simplicity of the set and reading Fridge I could really envisage how it would look on the stage, which made for a brilliant and different reading experience. There are only three characters and a fridge that is onstage at all times and doubles for various different props and locations throughout, and it's an amazing example of theatrical ingenuity. The story is hyper focused on the relationship between Alice, Lo and Charlie, but especially Alice and Lo's relationship, and the way that Charlie being there for Lo while Alice was gone affects his relationship with Alice, so it's all tangled up in the ways that relationships between siblings and also between old friends often are. Reading this script I got really nostalgic for that feeling of being in a theatre and having no distractions for a few hours and just concentrating on what's happening onstage, because the focus on the story being told is so intense that it allows no room for distractions and I loved that. It's such an unusual experience to have in daily life where things are usually hurried and all happening at once, and I'm very grateful that reading Fridge allowed me to remember that experience and hope that it won't be too long before I'm able to visit the theatre again.
Emma Zadow does a fantastic job of painting the difficulties in the relationship between Alice and Lo. The sisters simultaneously need each other and resent each other, and although it is her absence that has prompted Alice's return, their mother is clearly central to this situation, as her lack of care for Lo (and we can surmise, for Alice before she left) and prioritising her new boyfriend over her daughters, is part of what has led Lo to attempt to take her life, and also what has led to Alice leaving, and it's definitely the cause of a lot of the bitterness and resentment that's present between the sisters.
Themes of escape and entrapment run through Fridge, with the fridge being a representation (sometimes physically) of Lo's feelings of being trapped in Norfolk while Alice has escaped to freedom in London. Neither of them are the best at articulating their feelings which leads to a lot of resentment between them, and the back and forth between them felt very real to the dysfunctional relationships that can exist all too easily between siblings!
This is a short text, and I read it in a day because it's such a absorbing story. I found myself strangely drawn to all three characters in spite of (or maybe because of) how different they are too each other, and was very much rooting for them to sort out their various miscommunications and work everything out at the end.
Thank you to Renard Press for sending me this copy to review for the blog tour. You can order your own copy here.