Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"The Patriot Act" - Edinburgh Fringe 2008

During the Fringe Edinburgh is filled with thousands of young actors and writers taking their first steps, and if any of them should happen to read “View From The Stalls” – well, this bit is for you. If you want to make the most of your education here this year and have any ambition in serious theatre, you must make the effort to see this production. It’s a genuine masterclass in writing and performing in a way that makes your audience care about your characters.

The play centres around aging playwright William Carpenter whose recent work has been accused of supporting terrorism, and who now finds himself being offered a deal with the US government. If he agrees to make his next work clearly condemning of terrorism, then the judicial system will be inclined to look favourably on him. As with all the best issue focussed plays, the drama comes not from the issue, but from the individuals. It’s very rare for me to be genuinely moved by a piece but there are some simply heartbreaking moments in here. Writers Lydia Bruce and Sandy Burns have created living, breathing characters and their wonderful cast have brought them to life. As the writer’s wife and son, Darri Johnson Colton and Richard Arum really punch above their weight despite having comparatively little stage time. Robert Pemberton impresses as the government's representative but its Will Lyman’s performance in the central role of Carpenter that will leave the audience raving. Full of subtlety he conveys the character's stubbornness with some perfectly delivered dry humour while also making his vulnerability apparent. I doubt I'll see a better performance at the Fringe, and several other audience members were similarly impressed.

If it hadn't been for one small quibble I have with a plot element I think I may well have been starting a standing ovation at the end. If this production were at the Traverse it would be nailed on for a Fringe First and Herald Angel - I hope those involved with such things will give it due consideration.

The Patriot Act runs at the Gilded Balloon Teviot at 12:45 pm until 25th August (excluding the 11th)

2 Heckles

Helen Smith said...

Hi, it's good to read all your reviews. I can't make it to Edinburgh this year but as you know, we usually get some of the best shows coming down to London (where I live), so I'll be looking out for this.

Actually, even though I was there last year, I caught some of my favourite Edinburgh shows in London rather than Edinburgh for logistical reasons, including Venus as A Boy (sold out when I tried to get a ticket there, even quite early on) and The Bacchae.

Hope you're enjoying it all - I can't imagine doing it year in, year out, several shows a day, as you do but it's good that you maintain your interest.

As you're based in Scotland and know the companies, you have a slightly different take on things from people who have just turned up there for a month from London, much as I enjoy reading Lyn Gardner and others. One show you recommended last year, for example, was the Rebus McTaggart one, which I saw on your recommendation and which was a highlight for me. You also see a lot more serious stuff than I would go for, so I just read your reviews, feed off your knowledge and feel highbrow for doing so, and leave those shows for others to see...

Statler said...

Shame you can't come and join the fun, but as you say you'll get the chance to see many of the shows at a later date without the danger of seeing the dross. If "The Patriot Act" turns up in London it's well worth making the effort to see.

I can't believe you're suggesting we're 'highbrow' - did you see what we said about "Fall"??? Unless of course you mean that you read our incoherent ramblings and you feel highbrow in comparison? Ah, that must be it.