Skip to main content

Touching The Void

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Five stars

A jukebox isn’t the most obvious thing to be perched onstage throughout this epic staging of Joe Simpson’s iconic memoir of what happened when he and climbing partners Simon Yates and Richard Hawking set off on an mountaineering expedition in the Peruvian Andes. It is the music that beams out from it, however, that provides a lifeline in David Greig’s adaptation, brought to life by Tom Morris’s equally expansive production.

The first half sees Simpson’s former climbing comrades seemingly gather for his wake with his sister Sarah. Out of this Simon and Richard guide both Sarah and the audience through a crash course in the highs and lows of climbing and the drive that causes some to take the liberating physical leap into the void that gave Simpson his book’s title. This is done by way of an ingenious use of tables, chairs and even a solitary peanut.

The sheer physical élan of the four actors onstage as they clamber around designer Ti Green’s futuristic looking construction seemingly suspended in mid-air is thrilling enough. It is the second half, however, which jumps down the rabbit-hole of Simpson’s broken and exhausted psyche as he attempts to make it back from the brink of all but certain death towards unlikely survival as it gets to the solitary delirium of his plight.

Greig and Morris’s decision to take such a bold non-literal approach makes for exhilarating theatre, and Sarah’s presence is vital here. As played with ferocious vigour by Fiona Hampton, it is she who drives the narrative. This doesn’t take anything away from equally heroic performances by Edward Hayter as Simon, Patrick McNamee as Richard and especially Josh Williams as Joe in this co-production between the Lyceum, Bristol Old Vic. Royal and Derngate Northampton and Fuel. Pulsed by Jon Nicholls’ sound design and given ballast by Sasha Milavic Davies’ movement direction, the result is an inspirational quest that exposes the value of life itself.

The Herald, January 28th 2019
Ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug