Theatre Review: Conspiracy, Underbelly Cowgate - Big Belly, Edinburgh

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“A story doesn’t have to be true to tell you something.”

That’s one of the only unassailable truths in this dark comedy by Barrel Organ, in which three people, two female and one male, record what appears to be the latest episode of a podcast examining the potential for conspiracy in historical scenarios.

This time it’s the turn of ‘Lunch atop a skyscraper’, the vertigo-inducing 1932 photograph of construction workers seated on a girder high above the Rockefeller Center. Yet why is there a blurred, cloud-like halo around some of the men? Why is one of them looking knowingly towards the camera?

Squeezed together behind a cluttered desk, the trio – Rose Wardlaw’s comedically meticulous ringleader, Shannon Hayes’s semi-serious joker and Azan Ahmed’s wide-eyed over-believer – hatch ‘evidence’ of a credulous plot in which a mysterious ‘brotherhood’ faked the Moon landing, shot JFK and have hidden away their still-living members Elvis Presley and Tupac Shakur.

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Barrel Organ’s plays are consistently high-quality and that remains the case here, as director Dan Hutton makes good use of Jack Perkins’s text, and both the amusing interplay between the trio and the real and present danger of unchecked conspiracy theorising. These two very engaging elements dance around one another without colliding in the moment of conceptual revelation which characters and audience ultimately seek.

Until 25 August. Today 4:45pm.***

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