Theatre review: Edinburgh, Summerhall (Venue 26)

Rupert Thompson. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Rupert Thompson. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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NOT content with running an ambitious international programme in the former Dick Vet, Summerhall’s artistic director Rupert Thomson is paying homage to the city he made his home 13 years ago in a delicate and beguiling one-man show that’s somewhere between walking tour and art installation.


Summerhall (Venue 26)

Star rating: * * * *

A tall man in a suit, he meets us in the foyer and launches into the performance without introduction. He was born in Manchester, he explains but, like so many of us, it was the Scottish capital to which he gravitated and fell in love with.

He takes us upstairs to a series of rooms – one decked out as kitchen, one as artist’s garret, the third a gloomy loft. Each space represents a stage in his engagement with Edinburgh itself. The kitchen signifies the home, a place to share food, stories and word games. The garret stands for the imagination, somewhere for daydreams and creative leaps. And the loft is a metaphor for the unconscious, a mysterious room of brief erotic visions. As we travel, Thomson offers a mixture of personal anecdotes and philosophical musings. He considers the architectural allure of Edinburgh and the psychogeography of the towering Old Town, the streets of Leith and the Waverley trains that cut straight into the city’s heart. This is a city where he felt immediately at home, even as a six-year-old visitor, yet he also sees it as a place of loss, a home that conceals a terrifying abyss.

Lest this sound too heady, he roots his monologue in stories of romance and community, asking us to share our own visions of this beguiling capital. Those people who ask why Edinburgh of all cities should have become home to the world’s largest arts festival may well find the answer in this subtle and warming show.

• Until today, 4pm.