Theatre reviews: More Fool You: Parts I & II, Paradise in Augustines, Edinburgh

More Fool You: Parts I & II, Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152)
More Fool You: Parts I & II, Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152)
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Time travel and the Tudors – it's not an obvious combination and these wildly ambitious but frequently incoherent shows unfortunately demonstrate why that might be.

More Fool You: Part I, Paradise in Augustines, Until 24 August * *

More Fool You: Part II Paradise in Augustines, Until 25 August * *

Well performed by the contrastingly competent cast, in truly beautiful costumes, both pieces start confidently with relatively straight scenes from the lives of King Henry VIII (part I) and Katherine Parr (Part II) and, through engaging dialogue in keeping with the time, explore these royals' relationships with court fool Will Somers who, in a radical twist, may also be another fool called Jane who, in an even more radical twist, is also a decade jumping adventuress from the future.

In part I, the convoluted concept leads to a large chunk of the play being performed by characterless bureaucrats in a sterile present-day office-style setting, as they try and fail to satisfactorily explain what's happening and why. Meanwhile, in part II, a series of unlikely events doesn't so much re-write as annihilate Tudor history in a way that ties the story into even more unfathomable knots. "I have no idea what's going on," a character says at one point, and a man sitting behind me audibly agrees.

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It's shame that this clearly talented company doesn't have a clearer and more focused script to work with, as a straight period drama exploring a female fool in an era when women were largely unequal (and even today are sometimes still claimed to be less funny than men) is a fascinating idea – one that could be developed further through a more reined-in piece and insightful of writing.

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