Fringe Theatre review: Bluebeard’s Ghost

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Bluebeard’s Ghost | Sweet Holyrood (Venue 94) | Star rating: ***

Robert can’t sleep. His wife calls him a “chronic masticater” and he floats around his house in his pyjamas.

The reasons for his teeth-grinding insomnia gradually emerge and it’s a tale of don’t-ask-don’t-tell which has become all too familiar a narrative running through the Operation Yewtree investigations into the abuse and exploitation perpetrated by some of the big beasts of broadcasting.

Written by John Patrick Higgins and sensitively performed by Christian Talbot, Bluebeard’s Ghost is a story of a monster, but behind the door which Robert stands in front of is the spectre of a fabulist beast rather than a fabulous beast.

Slowly, methodically, he confronts memories of his days as assistant to celebrity DJ Johnnie Fancy, modelled most blatantly on Jimmy Saville but standing for any one of the cuddly kids’ TV bears who have been exposed in recent years.

Robert ran away from
rather than confronted the monster.

Now, in addition to being eaten up by his sins of omission, he shudders at complicity in the everyday sexist culture of the 1970s which laughed at leering characters in Carry On films, at the outpouring of anger by those who feel their childhood has been betrayed but mostly for the victims who, until recently, were the least likely to be heard.

• Until 27 August.