The Castle Builder (2 stars)

This article is from 2016

The Castle Builder

Energetic tribute to eccentric constructions turns out to be poorly constructed itself

At least it lives up to the title; The Castle Builder does indeed look in detail at the issues involved in building castles, and specifically at a number of celebrated and rather eccentric individuals who made the decision to build themselves a castle of their own.

Developed via Bristol Old Vic, The Castle Builder is a devised-theatre piece which features two likeable and energetic performers in the form of Vic Llewellyn and Kid Carpet, aka Ed Patrick, who use songs, video inserts, Viking helmets and general knockabout humour to explore their subject, ranging from a shaggy-dog story about a non-existent Norwegian castle to some astonishing true stories including the famous Coral Castle created by Edward Leedskalnin in Florida.

They've found a wealth of interesting material to be sure, but what they've failed to do is find an effective structure through which to meld such ephemera into a coherent and entertaining show. The result feels more like reading through a series of similarly themed Wikipedia articles rather than a finished production. The ramshackle nature of the performance rarely throws much light on the subject, beyond a nice moment when the audience are instructed to turn on the lights of their phones to illuminate the stage, and the songs feel improvised and repetitive rather than polished.

An opening salvo, in which an old chair is smashed to pieces using an axe, is parlayed into a wrap-around bit of showing-off in which a craftsman fashions the splinters into a small work of art, which then gets proudly displayed at the show's climax. What's odd is that a paean to construction should be so carelessly constructed; Llewellyn and Carpet need to work a lot harder to make The Castle Builder a worthwhile tribute to the wonderfully loopy real-life characters they so clearly idolise.

Summerhall, until 28 Aug (not 15, 22), 12.55pm, £12 (£8).

The Castle Builder

  • 2 stars

The true story of a Norwegian inmate who built a castle on a remote headland over the course of five years.