Benet Catty Productions

Burst - Edinburgh 2010

Aug 16, 2010

Whatsonstage **

Edinburgh is about taking risks and pursuing challenges and Paper Tiger’s devised play about Sudan’s struggle for freedom after colonial tyranny certainly earns points there. Sadly the achievement falls short of the ambition. The plot is impenetrable, the characters are thinly-sketched, and despite some good performances the production feels rather undergraduate.

The writing is laced with anachronistic dialogue (“I used to ride her bareback”; “She is an odd one”). The design clutters the stage, occasionally obscuring actors’ faces in shadow. The direction often splits our focus, like having one of the characters hand out leaflets during a major political speech. The production lacks presentational consistency, including odd stylized moments for no discernible dramatic motivation. A pounding drum solo gets things going for a bit and the concluding scene between Joanna Bell and Rezaul Kabir generates real intensity.

The ambition’s admirable, yes, but the result’s not worth banging a drum about.

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