Scapegoat (2 stars)

This article is from 2016


A host of minor production niggles hold back an otherwise promising Texas-set drama

In a sparsely furnished farmhouse, an old woman (Emily Anderson) sits in a rocking chair while her daughter Hayley (Nia Tilley) prepares dinner. This normality is disrupted when a stranger named Ethan (Brad Carpenter) comes calling, ostensibly looking for advice about the pair's goat farm. Of course, there's more to Ethan than initially meets the eye.

Urban Orchard's dark Texan drama has a lot of ideas that look good on paper, but they arrive on stage beset by small yet distracting flaws. The cast give decent performances all round, but their American accents are sometimes slippery. There are physical theatre movements that, one climactic sequence aside, fail to convey much meaning. There are unnecessary changes in lighting, and one particularly misplaced soundtrack choice that aims at ominous foreboding and hits angsty posturing. There's no clear sense of time: the Fringe brochure description places it in the 1980s, but aside from a few anachronistic words such as 'apartment', it could've been any time since 1880 – a potential strength in shows pitching for timelessness, but something that's just poorly explained here.

None of these niggles is enough to sink a show alone, but their combined weight robs Scapegoat of its potential power.

theSpace on the Mile, until 27 Aug, 11.55am, £8 (£6).


  • 2 stars

Urban Orchard Productions Texas, early evening, the 1980s. A man returns to his old town. But where has he been? And what is he hiding? Ghosts from his past return to haunt him with shattering consequences, shaking each character and changing their lives irreparably. Scapegoat examines the Texan justice system, the idea…