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Valhalla

Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh
Three stars

The early days of a supposedly better nation are never easy. That’s certainly the case in Ronan Jennings’ new play, where, in a world where a bourgeois empress has just been killed and civil servants are lined up against the wall, apart from the revolution it’s another working day.


With people-powered Guillaume taking his favourite assassin and would-be poster-girl Eloise under his wing, seeming enemy of the people Ingrid is freed from her chains to serve the cause. An attempt to solicit international alliances with visiting dignitaries like Zaitsev and help stop rioting in the streets sees old loyalties taken to the limit. New allegiances are forged out of realpolitik as the business of good government must out of necessity go beyond the ego-driven ideology of Guillaume.

It’s a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss in Jennings’ own production, the fifth of a series of six programmes of new work presented by Twelve Twelve over a year-long period. The result over the play’s two short acts is a dissection of populism delivered with classicist airs that suggests a dystopian parallel universe increasingly resembling our own.

With Andrew Johns Cameron’s Guillaume already striking a monumental pose as the audience arrive, what follows resembles a kick-ass comic-book style allegory that points up the seeming redundancy of regime change. As Hana Mackenzie’s Eloise, Debi Pirie’s Ingrid and Christina Kostopoulou’s Zaitsev pivot around the demagogue, not everyone lives to tell the tale, and the new world order that rises up looks set to begin the process anew.

Top and tailed with a soundtrack culled from Joy Division’s appropriately Ballardian Unknown Pleasures album, Jennings’ take on political chaos in a post-democracy world may be imaginary, but it suggests the mad world it’s masters and mistresses have created are merely a reflection of what appears to be a troublingly real end of civilisation as we know it. 

The Herald, December 13th 2018
Ends

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