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The Devil Masters

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars
It's Christmas Eve in Edinburgh New Town, and in the ornate interior of
legal power couple Cameron and Lara's Georgian des-res, the fire is
roaring, the wine is uncorked and their beloved dog Max is frolicking
in the garden. Set to a classical music soundtrack, the scene is almost
too perfect in Orla O'Loughlin's production of Iain Finlay Macleod's
new play, as if lifted from the pages of some high society magazine.

Enter John, an intruder from the opposite end of the social spectrum,
whose rude intrusion and kidnap of Max sees the veneer of
respectability rapidly unravel as Lara at least shows her true colours.
The name of the game for what follows is survival, as John first
becomes trapped, only to use his animal mentality to turn the tables on
his captors. As played by John Bett and Barbara Rafferty as Cameron and
Lara, and Keith Fleming as John, the heightened grotesquerie in the
cartoon class war that follows resembles the sort of treatment Mike
Leigh might give his subjects. John in particular is cut from the same
cloth as underclass anti-hero Johnny in Leigh's film, Naked.

As increasingly absurd as things become in the play's comically cutting
dissection of snobbery, prejudice and just how divided a city
Scotland's capital can be sometimes, to fully hit home it could be even
more manic and even more savage in its delivery. Despite this, the
local references from Irvine Welsh to Jack Vettriano which are peppered
throughout Macleod's script provoked instant recognition from the
first-night audience in this enlightened tale of two cities occupying
the same urban jungle.


The Herald, December 12th 2014

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