*** The Hive
PACKED into a tiny whisky vault, the audience for the first play from local theatre company Silver City couldn't get much closer to the actors if they were sitting in their front room.
In fact, the company have turned the room – deep under the Hive night club on Niddry Street – into the cell of twin sisters Katie and Sophie, confined in a mental institution for their own good.
Lesley Paul as Katie and Elaine Berry as Sophie are right under the feet of the front row as they prattle away in their private language.
The idea is that the audience are medical observers, come to get their own personal look at the twins, who are famous for their exclusive language.
It is a well-constructed little piece of theatre. The ten-strong audience for each show are led to the chamber by a Doctor Scott, who introduces the twins' case, talks about the problems he has in making them communicate with him and points out examples of their stories, pinned up on the walls.
It's all a bit like the notorious scene in Silence of the Lambs where Clarice Starling first confronts Hannibal Lecter in a high security prison – but without the scary bits.
Unfortunately, Jamie Gordon's representation of the doctor doesn't quite come up to the level of the rest of the production.
He does the job of setting it all up well enough, but he doesn't find the sense of menace that should be there – and that does in fact come from the twins themselves.
Unlike in the Silence of the Lambs, the menace here is from the medical authorities. Paul and Berry do an excellent job in first creating the powerful understanding between the twins, and then showing how that has been crushed beneath the weight of those who seek to save them from themselves.
That they are able to do it so well is down to Hana Mackechnie's script.
She has created a vocabulary for the two that sounds as if it should be incomprehensible, but which is actually quite easy to understand.
Beyond that, there's a strong dynamic relationship here. They might be twins, but they certainly aren't equal. While the stories they tell each other illustrate their need to get out from under the chemical cosh and away from the institution, the way they tell the stories is illuminating as to their relationships.
Where the script underachieves is in exploring the depths of their characters, and finding a way of expressing the elements that Dr Scott is so frightened of. What is there is good, but there is not enough of it.
It is a promising first production, however, which takes a challenging idea from real life and builds a strong piece of site-specific theatre around it.
• Run ends tonight
Your review: 'You got really involved with the characters'
Roisin Crick, 22, shop assistant, Restalrig: "I really enjoyed it, it was very intense and I was engrossed in the whole performance. I thought the introduction built up a lot of anticipation of what you were going to see, but even then it was still quite a shock to walk into that tiny little room and be so close to them. It was a good way to introduce it."
Joe Lawson, 17, pupil, Leith: "It was a really unique story, much different to anything else I had seen. The set worked really well with the story because it was so close and it got you really involved with the two characters. If it was a bigger room, I don't think it would have had as powerful an effect. The seats were a bit uncomfortable, but that didn't really matter."
Karen Lawson, 45, lecturer, Leith: "It was really interesting. I liked the complex language and you could tell it was their unique language with each other but you could access it. It was different and made you think – you had to concentrate, but it was an insight into a different world. The actors were very engaging; they held your attention."