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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 Theatre - The Greatest Play in the History of the World, Traverse Theatre, Four stars / South Bend, Gilded Balloon @ The Museum, Four stars

The stage resembles a shoe shop store-room throughout Raz Shaw’s production of Ian Kershaw’s play, The Greatest Play in the History of the World. Performed by the mighty Julie Hesmondhalgh, Kershaw’s starting point is the Carl Sagan-curated Golden Record, a sonic compendium of human life blasted into space on the off-chance it will float into the hands, minds or tentacles of extra-terrestrial lifeforms.

Closer to home, it begins in a street where various bodies orbiting around each other eventually collide. Tom in number 28 and Sara who live opposite in number 27 are ones to keep an eye on, although it’s the elderly Forshaws who really have their sights set on the stars. Hesmondhalgh’s rendering of Kershaw’s story of chance, synchronicity and the irresistible power of love is as clever as Einstein, as cosy as a pair of old slippers, and a joy to watch.

Things happened to Martin McCormick when he went to America. As a Scot abroad landing in a liberal arts institution, he was loved by everybody. Romance blossomed, and when he came back to Scotland he and his beloved swore they’d keep in touch. When he returned, not to California, but to a weird middle American town, everything changed.

This is the crux of McCormick’s play, South Bend, in which he rewinds on both his love affair with America and the short-term mess the reality of it made of his youthful life. This is no poor-me affair, however, as McCormick relays his personal odyssey in Ben Harrison’s production in a Ted-talk style presentation that’s full of charm and bonhomie. With Jess Chanliau playing all the other parts and live Foley work by David A. Pollock, McCormick seems to have survived his stateside excursion and lived to tell a very lively tale.

The Herald, August 15th 2018

ends


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