delilah delights
By JOE BELANGER, The London Free Press
June 8, 2012 11:31pm

Life is seldom fair, but somehow it mostly balances out in the end.

The fun, the joy, love lost and found, the hurt and pain is the stuff that feeds that desperate need within us all to belong to a family, to friends, to something -- anything -- that helps us cope with the uncertainty of life and certainty of death.

And that's about all one really should say about the story that is called delilah, written and directed by London's Len Cuthbert and performed Friday at the Grand Theatre's McManus Studio on the second day of the London Fringe Festival.

This is an outstanding 60-minute play, extended from the highly-acclaimed 10-minute version that debuted at last year's London One Act Festival.

The four-member cast includes 14-year-old Sarah From in the role of Dee-J, Sarah C.E. Stanton as Delilah, best friend of Jade, played by Tammy Vink, who are friends of Mick (Ray Wiersma), Dee-J's legal guardian and adopted brother.

It is an outstanding cast, their performances in this bittersweet tale near flawless, limited only by a script that almost screams out for another rewrite and more time for these characters to be explored.

The cast is led by the main protagonist, Jade, who seems capable of helping everyone around her deal with life's troubles, but resorts to telling chicken jokes to avoid facing her own inner demons.

From is a wonderful surprise, delivering the attitude, the emotions, defiance, confusion and turmoil of early adolescence.

Stanton's Delilah is played with delicious understatement to allow Vink to deliver her take-charge character.

The set design is simple but effective.

There are technical problems with this production but they are easily fixed.

The lighting is often too soft, making it difficult to see the actors' face at some of the most important, emotion-packed moments. Better lighting would also support the action on stage: brighter for a happy scene; bluer, or darker, for sad or contemplative moments.

Similarly, the blocking or positioning of the actors is a little wonky with the actors sitting too close to the audience.

Regardless, this is a great play, one that should be on everyone's must-see list.

Rating: **** (out of five)

E-mail, or follow JoeBatLFPress on Twitter.