Greyfriars Kirk House, Edinburgh
August, 2002

* Embarrassingly ropey tale of French literary greats

This story of Théophile Gautier, Gerard de Nerval and Alexandre Dumas proves sadly clunking in every important respect.

Writer Anthony Windram does insert the occasional joke "One for all and all for one... that's no way to conduct your life," remarks Dumas of all people but as both writer and director it's the sombre story of de Nerval's decline into mental instability and death that he concentrates on. This is morose stuff, not helped by a succession of unnecessary minor rearrangements of furniture in blackout that cripple the pace.

Even allowing for a late-minute recasting, the acting is atrociously uneven. "He says my acting is uncertain," says Daisy Brown's character, uncertainly. The central male trio feel like adolescent boys dressing up as giants of literature. Windram's direction doesn't even address fundamental points such as how to pronounce the name "Théophile": even though nobody says it correctly, it might at least be advisable to get everybody saying it the same wrong way. This hour-long show is over-ambitious and cringeingly under-achieving.

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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