Callisto: A Queer Epic (3 stars)

Four intersecting gay stories fall short on emotional impact

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Callisto: A Queer Epic

A 17th-century actress struggles to keep her illicit marriage to a woman secret; maths genius Alan Turing strikes up an unlikely friendship with the mother of his lost first love, Christopher; a Nebraska woman takes her first steps in the adult entertainment business in search of the porn actress she has fallen in love with; on the Moon in the 23rd century, an android falls for its human creator.

With its epoch-straddling, Cloud Atlas-style colliding storylines, writer Howard Coase's Callisto from theatre company Forward Arena more than lives up to the 'epic' of its title, cramming as much storyline into its 70 minutes as four more traditional Fringe shows – although Thomas Bailey's smooth, fluid direction ensures the intersecting plots are lucid and strongly characterised. The cast is universally strong, with James Watterson in particular bringing welcome moments of calm and reflection as Turing.

By the end, though, and despite the thematic sleights of hand and cunning reflections back and forth between the four stories, there's a question of what it all amounts to – and whether it really shines any fresh light on same-sex relationships, let alone celebrating their universality down the ages. And despite its admirable cleverness, it's a show that's surprisingly light on emotional impact.

Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug (not 15), 11.50am, £8-£10 (£7-£9).

Callisto: A Queer Epic

  • 3 stars

Forward Arena A constellation of four queer stories scattered across time and space: from a London opera house in 1675 to a research lab on the moon in 2223. Forward Arena: big, progressive theatre that sculpts future worlds. Some adult content. Age category: 14+

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