Walden (4 stars)

This article is from 2009


In praise of life lived at a different pace

It’s the smell that hits you, as you shuffle to your seat in the sparse wooden seating bank that constitutes Walden’s only set. Fresh pine sap: an un-urban smell, from a world utterly at odds with the chattering mania of the Fringe.

Magnetic North has brought HD Thoreau’s account of two years spent living out of civilisation in the woods to plain, lovely life; in this most oversaturated month of an oversaturated age, its message, to live simply but deliberately, has never been more timely. The railroads, which seemed to Thoreau to be speeding civilisation into unnecessary haste in 1854, have just been replaced by the lightening-fast communication of social networking.

Ewan Donald’s warm, finely-tuned performance makes the production. His Thoreau, taking the time to contemplate and enjoy even the sounds and meaning of his own speech, is no antisocial hermit. He shares his experiences with the audience, encourages us, facing each other in the round, to find communion in his delight and wonder in the world. His ideas may be easily appropriated by Luddites, but at its core, this is a passionate, positive call to us all just to stop, and breathe.

Dovecot, 315 3054, until 29 Aug, 3pm (plus extra performance at noon on Saturdays), £10 (£8).


  • 4 stars

'Tremendously timely piece of theatre' - **** (Scotsman). 1845 - Thoreau begins his experiment in simple living in the Massachusetts woods. Acclaimed adaptation of this classic meditation on self-sufficiency, returns to Edinburgh after 2008's sell-out shows. Limited capacity.

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