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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 Theatre Reviews 9 - The Collector / Theatre On A Long Thin Wire / Thief

The Collector
Gilded Balloon
Three stars
What do you do when the only way to earn a living is to work for the
enemy? This is the dilemma for Nazir, the hip hop loving translator who
provides the heart of Henry Naylor's new play set in Iraq in 2003.
Nazir's story is told by way of three cut-up monologues spoken in turn
by his partner, Zoya, and the two American army interrogators he
translates for. With humanity turning to brutality, Nazir is
effectively outed by one of the army captives and made a pariah that
changes his and Zoya's lives forever.

There is some neat writing in Naylor's timely script, which is given a
strong delivery by Ritu Arya, Wiliam Reay and Lesley Harcourt. There
are probably more imaginative ways of moving from one monologue to the
other than simply turning the lights off as the actors shuffle on and
off stage in Naylor's own production An understated power prevails,
however, in a piece that highlights the potentially destructive
aftermath of local collaboration with enemy forces in international
conflict.
Until August 25.

Theatre On A Long Thin Wire
Summerhall
Four stars
A dozen people are led to a tiny room at the top of the building. On a
chair below one of the windows sits a mobile phone. It rings, and one
of our number picks it up. The voice on the other end of the line asks
the person who answered the phone to repeat their words exactly, and to
do everything they're asked. Over the next hour, we hear second-hand
about our disembodied narrator and protagonist's every move. They're
excited and in need of affirmation, but they could be telling us
anything, and their apparent presence remains unverified right up until
the final connection leaves us wanting.

This interactive exchange facilitated by Exterminating Angel's Jack
McNamara comes laced with the trappings of a self-help psycho-therapy
encounter group locked up playing pass the parcel as we're led up
assorted garden paths by our unseen host. This all starts off as a bit
of a wheeze, even as we're emotionally engineered to react and behave
in certain ways. As the anticipation mounts, it's like taking a reverse
charge call from Godot, only to be put on permanent hold in a quietly
troubling disturbance.
Until August 24.

Thief
Hill Street Theatre
Three stars
Anyone who has ever read Jean Genet's The Thief's Journal will know
well this arch existentialist's philosophies of sex and thieving. Liam
Rudden's play mines freely from such iconography, as a stripy t-shirted
Matt Robertson as the archetypal Sailor recounts his adventures on the
street and in or behind bars as he plys his trade. Like his tattoos,
every anecdote is a badge of honour for Sailor, every dangerous liaison
and self-inflicted flesh-wound reminding him that he's alive. It's not
so much sex as violence and vice versa, but a mission that lacerates
even as it aggrandises Sailor's soul.

In Robertson and Rudden's hands, Sailor is on a mission as he stands
there with his naked tush facing the audience. His lifestyle choice is
relentless, obsessive and addictive, even as he stays emotionally
removed from things as he goes. This makes for a choice and at times
explicit delivery, as Robertson thrusts his way through Rudden's own
production with abandon, relishing every dirty little word as the
ultimate piece of rough trade.
Until August 24

The Herald, August 19th 2014


ends

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