Friday, 23 October 2015

The Devil's Larder

Customs House, Edinburgh
Four stars

The lost-looking sailor who opens the door into one of Leith's most grandiloquent buildings where Grid Iron Theatre Company's tenth anniversary staging of vignettes from Jim Crace's food-absorbed novel awaits may look like he's stepped off a ghost ship, but there's something even more haunting beyond. From Johnny Austin and Charlene Boyd's sexy Addams Family style couple who top and tail the show with some of its more wildly erotic imaginings, to the over-riding and all-pervading sense of melancholy that runs throughout Ben Harrison's production, life, death, sex, loss, mortality and everything inbetween are served up in a way designed to gorge on.

Navigating the capacity audience of just forty around the building through a network of rarely occupied rooms prior to a short Scottish tour, the action veers from staircase erotica to an array of settings and situations, with each tale of the unexpected brought vividly to life in something akin to a portmanteau horror film compendium. A refugee working as a hotel maid attempts a taste of the high life; a widow hears her late husband singing inside her; and the aphrodisiac properties of the 1970s fondue scene becomes the life and soul of the party.

All these and more are exquisitely delivered by Austin, Boyd, Ashley Smith and Anthony Strachan, who flit between an array of characters, each attempting in different ways to satisfy a hunger for love. With the low-key magical realist mood heightened by a live score composed and performed by David Paul Jones and harpist Mary Macmaster, who also prove themselves to be adept performers, The Devil's Larder proves to be a feast for the senses, however deranged they may be.

The Herald, October 23rd 2015

ends

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