Theatre review: There's Something Missing, Zoo Playground, Edinburgh

What exactly it is that's missing from this absurdist two-hander by the University of Worcester-based Strange Futures company is never actually made clear, although if we were to take a guess, we might say that a proper stage to perform it on would be a start.

There's Something Missing, Zoo Playground (Venue 186)
There's Something Missing, Zoo Playground (Venue 186)

There's Something Missing, Zoo Playground, Edinburgh * * * *

There is a stage within this room, of course, but it's only made superficial use of; instead, what we experience here feels as much like a piece of street theatre or eccentric comedy club playfulness as traditional theatre.

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Or maybe it's just a sense of human connection which the two men before us are lacking. We're confronted, first of all, with two equally-sized, upright wooden boxes painted in a perfect white. With a start, they sprout jazz hands, and turn with an awkward wobble to face us. Within each is a man, sitting hunched up in an almost fetal position. They begin by just talking, addressing the audience, asking us questions, and then move into monologues which collide and overlap, and sometimes become a dialogue. One is a motormouth, twitchily regaling us with the rules of Magic the Gathering and other fantasy games; the other is quieter, more dreamily self-possessed, although even his tale of simply climbing a flight of stairs feels endlessly repetitive.

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All of The Scotsman's 5-star reviews from the 2019 festivals

Together, this cubed-up odd couple hop closer in their boxes, while one decides to explore the outer roof of his prison and the other eventually, boldly tries to walk. The esoteric comedy is enjoyable, and delivered with deceptively powerful physicality, yet in the mode of delivery there's plenty of food for thought about how we - particularly men - communicate with one another. It’s a thought-provoking and very well-composed show, and it deserves far bigger audiences in its graveyard slot off the beaten track.

Until 26 August

David Pollock