A gender-bending twist on Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Offering a gender-bending twist on Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window, Off-Off-Off-Broadway’s Back Door joins truculent war reporter Tabitha Montgomery (Laura Louise Baker) in 1920s Paris as she recovers from a broken leg. Attended to by wittering fop John (Polis Loizou, who also wrote the script), she has little to do all day but read the papers and complain about being hung out to dry by her employers, until mysterious cross-dressing cabaret performer Violette (Jaacq Hugo) appears under questionable, possibly murderous circumstances.
Loizou’s script is peppered with lipsmacking period slang (‘Applesauce!’ is so much more appealing than ‘baloney!’), though he and his cast mates sometimes struggle to really sell it – this, coupled with the odd shaky hand and wavering accent, is more than likely just the manifestation of opening night nerves. The gender switches aren’t just a gimmick: Montgomery’s Hemingwayesque gruffness belies a frustration at being thought less capable than her male counterparts, while Violette is treated with suspicion as much for her refusal to submit to gender norms as for her alleged actions.
Despite a cumbersome and unnecessary Patricia Highsmith-style subplot, Back Door ultimately deserves credit for successfully portraying a familiar story from an unfamiliar viewpoint.
theSpace on the Mile, 510 2382, until 23 Aug, 1.55pm, £8 (£6.50).