Sunday, August 15, 2010

"The Apprentice" - Edinburgh Fringe 2010

Nonsense Room have been part of our Fringe-going since 2006 and have produced delightful shows year after year. Part of the attraction is their venue, the stunning Rosslyn Chapel, and never more so than this year where they revive their show based on the chapel itself. Theatre just doesn't get any more site specific than this.

The legend goes that an apprentice stonemason completed an intricately carved pillar with a design that came to him in a dream while the master mason was abroad seeking inspiration. As he had intended to carve the pillar himself, the master mason was somewhat less than pleased on his return. Writer Simon Beattie has filled in the gaps with a tragic love story that left me feeling how I always think I should feel when watching Romeo & Juliet - but never do. The sense of being made to choose between love and loyalty really hits home here, and unlike Shakespeare's pairing there's no sense Beattie's tragic couple have brought this on themselves. However, this emphasis on the tragedy leaves little room for the humour we've become used to in Nonsense Room's shows and Waldorf in particular missed the lighter tone.

But for me, the accomplished script and performances more than made up for the required shift in our expectations - and in truth as we knew the legend we should have been prepared for something rather darker. As the apprentice mason, Marcus, Rhys Teare-Williams has to carry much of the show on his shoulders and makes an impressive job of it. Colin Moncrieff delivers a remarkably intense performance as Vincenzo the master mason while Alison Macfarlane makes Megan's relationship with Marcus charmingly believable. Beattie's dialogue and fine performances from James Bryce and Catherine Owen as Sir William and Lady Sinclair make their characters three dimensional and elevate them beyond the plot devices they could easily have been.

There are some lovely moments of direction from Bruce Strachan - particularly a dance sequence by Marcus and Megan and the final confrontation between master and apprentice. The accompanying musical score adds much to the production and of course, the setting is sublime.

I'm unsure if 'enjoyable' is quite the right word for such a sad show, but it's certainly a beautiful and moving piece of theatre.

The Apprentice runs at Rosslyn Chapel in Roslin until Thursday 19th August
Please note that Roslin is some distance outside of Edinburgh city centre and make appropriate travel arrangements.
Image by Peter Searle used with permission.

1 Heckle

Anonymous said...

As always a very impressive and professional performance from 'Nonsense Room'. I particularly enjoyed the young apprentice who was very convincing. I look forward to their Christmas show.