Splendid Productions' energetic and playful hour finds new meaning in the great unfinished play
This article is from 2014.
In their rendering of Büchner’s unfinished text, Splendid Productions adopt a playful timbre that sees them skip between scenes, co-opt the audience as the rumour mongers, and gleefully demonstrate the mechanisms behind their skilful stagecraft: as Kerry Frampton gleefully cries ‘Scott’s started now, can’t you tell? There’s been a tonal shift!’
The ensemble’s familiarity with the spirit of clowning allows them to interact playfully with their audience, on whom they never dim the lights. There is never any doubt that the show is in good hands, and between the acerbic wit of the production and the delighted audience there is a clear investment from the company in giving the audience plenty of ideas to consider, but stopping short of telling them what to think. In his Pythonesque turn as the grandmother, Jimmy Whiteaker turns an unexpected burst of laughter from the audience into a jumping off point for further comic improvisation.
The direction by Mal Smith, Matt Wilde and Lucy Cuthbertson makes for a slick production, peppered with engaging details: foley-style sound effects, the almost mechanical eating of peas by Scott Smith’s Woyzeck, and the vividly realised caricatures of the Doctor and Captain performed by Frampton. Splendid Productions strike an energetic balance of playful and clever, with enough detail to keep you thinking well after the hour has passed.
Gilded Balloon, 0131 622 6552, 30 Jul - 25 Aug (not 12), 1pm, £9-£10 (£8-£9)