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Foxgloves/Nothing But The Gallows

Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Three stars

Last week in Edinburgh, Formation Festival brought together a plethora of locally sourced theatre presented by the Annexe Arts organisation. Space sadly prevents coverage of all events, but two new plays presented over the weekend offered a glimpse of what was on offer.

Foxgloves was a dark contemporary thriller by Jonathan Whiteside, brought to life in David Laing’s production for the Strawmoddie company. Nothing but the Gallows saw Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir direct Ben Blow’s fascinating dissection of revolutionary spirit in the midst of twenty-first century capitalism, performed here by members of the Annexe Repertory company.

In Foxgloves, brother and sister Serge and Nancy return to their grandfather’s farm following his death, and unearth a family history they probably should have left well alone. In execution, Whiteside and Laing punctuate the snappy sparring between Alex Gray and Madeleine McGirk as the estranged siblings with a voiceover reciting the stage directions in what initially appears to be a distancing device before taking a more sinister turn once the lights go out.

This makes for a chilling fifty minutes or that uses the shock-horror tricks of The Woman in Black and dresses them up in the psychological cloak and dagger of a 1970s tale of the unexpected. It also gives the idea of saying it with flowers a whole new edge.

Inheritances of a very different kind are the drive behind Nothing But The Gallows, which sees Grant Jamieson’s feckless John come into a fortune following the apparent suicide of his uber-wealthy tycoon brother, Arthur. With his lawyer girlfriend Emma in tow, John stumbles on Arthur’s patronage of a pair of millennial vloggers, while Luke Bazalgette’s posh boy secretary Chester attempts in vain to prevent these two very different worlds from colliding.

With live video feeds of the vloggers broadcasts dotted throughout Sigfusdottir’s intense production, Blow’s complex caper takes the contradictions of radical action stirred up on social media and the dark money bank-rolling it to their logical limit. This makes for some incisive commentary on how money talks in a world where it only looks like anyone can have their say.

The Herald, March 4th 2019



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