Theatre review: Lazybed, Edinburgh

Lazybed St. Augustine's, Edinburgh **

IAIN CRICHTON SMITH's Lazybed is one of the strangest works to emerge from Scottish theatre in recent years. Written in six scenes, the play is a beguiling piece of late 20th-century Hebridean absurdism in which a 39-year-old crofter called Murdo takes to his bed for metaphysical reasons – he can't see the point of getting out of it – and receives an increasingly weird range of visitors, including Death himself, carrying a large scythe.

The play is more meditative than dynamic, and yet it has own subtle forward movement; a lazybed, after all, is a place where lightly covered plants can germinate in peace. And it's good to see the play revived by ambitious young Edinburgh company Falling Cutlery, the latest in a long series of shoestring post-student initiatives to occupy the city's underground spaces.

On the downside, Gregor Shanks's production often seems like the work of a group with little experience of truly professional theatre: it's slow, literal, under-rehearsed and often hesitant. There's some lovely guitar-and-violin music between scenes, though, from Murdo Turner and Tim Du Feu; a thoughtful if uncertain performance from Simon Eilbeck as Murdo; and a pair of strong supporting turns from Katy Hastie as Judith – the woman who loves Murdo – and a polished Corneilius Pierce, as Death. This production of Lazybed is not going to set the Edinburgh theatre scene alight; but for connoisseurs of Crichton Smith, it's worth a look, as an earnest and thoughtful tribute to one of his more interesting works.


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