Theatre review: Flashback Drama

Flashback DramaOut Of The Blue Drill Hall, Edinburgh **

WHEN it comes to an event like the Leith Festival – perched on the brink of professional performance, yet fuelled by a huge amount of voluntary and community effort – choosing which show to see is even more of a lottery than usual; and my luck was at a lowish ebb, when I turned up at Out Of The Blue to see this latest show from Flashback Drama, the community-based devising company that makes its home there. In past years, with their director Gavin Crichton, this team have come up with some interesting drama about real-life dilemmas facing communities around Leith.

This time, though, they take a dive into sub-Sartrean symbolism, with a play about a man stuck in some post-death limbo; and the results are, at best, mixed. Writer Paul Hughes plays John, a man in a suit who finds himself in a strange waiting-room, surrounded by people apparently in a similar plight. A neo-conservative demon called Ali appears, and tries to trash all John's ideas about decency, waiting in line, and being kind to his fellow creatures; John resists, but in the end, it appears his resistance has been futile.

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There's some decent acting from Gavin Crichton's seven-strong company, and they deliver this devised story with great conviction. As the show comes towards the end of its allotted hour, though, its structure of meaning becomes more and more confused; and finally it tilts towards a kind of fashionable pessimism that depresses without enlightening, and says nothing original at all.

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