Theatre review: Solitary, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

In a solitary confinement cell, a male prisoner’s day becomes a numbing routine  from bed to exercise to toilet (to urinate or masturbate) to the only human contact of the day; the ever-changing series of uninterested or disdainful guards who slump by, pausing only to slam the day’s gruel into the tray on the door.

Solitary portrays the psychological torments of confinement in haunting fashion.

Solitary, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh * * *

In the hands of New York City’s Dutch Kills Theater Company, the cloying, claustrophobic timetabling of this day becomes something more than an illustrative piece of mimed physical theatre. Performed by Duane Cooper, the erosion of the prisoner’s mental state becomes tangible; first as he acts out talking back and being roughed up by the quartet of guards as his cell is turned over, and then as the psychological violence of his situation plays out inside his own mind.

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