Ablutions (3 stars)

This article is from 2014


FellSwoop Theatre perform deft but needless adap of Patrick deWitt's novel at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Ablutions, adapted from the novel of the same name by Booker-nominated author Patrick DeWitt, has a straightforward, unflashy premise: a nameless barman reflects on his dead-end life, recounting the tales of his own alcoholic excesses and those of the characters who frequent the Hollywood dive where he works. Fellswoop Theatre, who have adapted the story with DeWitt’s assistance (much as they presented 2011’s Belleville Rendezvous with input from Sylvain Chomet), have succeeded in putting the book on-stage, though the real question to be asked as the curtain falls is: why this story?

Eoin Slattery does a grand job as the barman, giving off an appropriately schlubby vibe that’ll be familiar to fans of Louis CK or H Jon Benjamin. Fiona Mikel and Harry Humberstone are also commendable, alternately populating the bar with all manner of washouts and weirdos and forming part of an increasingly aggressive Greek chorus (completed by equally proficient musical director Ben Osborn). But the narrative they’ve chosen to portray just isn’t especially compelling – without DeWitt’s novelistic flourishes, it’s a well-told but ultimately ungripping story of whiskey-soaked misadventures. It’s an especially puzzling move given that DeWitt’s second novel – the magnificent and cinematic The Sisters Brothers – must be waiting in the wings.

Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 11, 18), 5.35pm, £9–£11.


  • 3 stars

FellSwoop Theatre in association with Bristol Old Vic Ferment Following the sell-out success of Belleville Rendez-vous, the award-winning FellSwoop Theatre (in association with Bristol Old Vic Ferment) return with Ablutions, adapted from the novel by Man Booker shortlisted author, Patrick DeWitt. A dark, boozy tale from…