The Titanic Orchestra
Fiddling with the truth in this dark comedy
This article is from 2015.
Popular Scottish actor John Hannah's starring role in this Bulgarian play by Hristo Boytchev has perhaps guaranteed an audience that would not otherwise see it. He is superb, bringing a brooding, Machiavellian charisma to a top-hatted engima claiming to be the great illusionist Harry Houdini. But he's not the most interesting performer – that honour goes to Stuart Crowther's Louko, a fallen-from-grace bus conductor, who is sharp and moving.
Following a group of tramps at a railway station who are seduced by the stranger's parlour tricks (eggs, train tickets and a violin concerto all appear from nowhere), Boytchev's script asks questions about the illusory nature of consciousness, and also of the stranger. Is he God, the devil, or simply a construct in the minds of lost people?
Self-appointed leader Meto (Jonathan Rhodes) and Doko (Ivan Barnev) are locked in petty disputes about the whereabouts of an errant bear, and who quaffed the last of the vodka. The stranger has his work cut out for him in dealing with these conflicts.
It may not be consistent in its brilliance, but there are lyrical and humorous moments which give way to poignant self-reflection as the lights go up.
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 24), £12.50–£16.50 (£10.50–£14.50).