Theatre review: The Black Cat

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: You don't have to read Poe's original tale before seeing this clever, sideways adaptation but it will increase your appreciation for the ingenuity shown by its devisers and performers, Olwen Davies and Ollie Smith.

Underbelly Med Quad (Venue 302 – 13 August only); Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61)

***

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If you don’t want to do your homework that’s fine, too, as Smith reads extracts from the original text and comments on changes necessary for the modern-day reworking by Mufaro Makuiba.

Davies and Smith don’t just act out the script; seated at mic’d tables as if it were a radio broadcast, they undercut it with amusing cattiness, act as living footnotes to the text. They’re charming performers in these sections, but the dramatic scenes of marital discord are very well played. Rather than undercutting the tension – as you might expect – the humour actually underlines it and both performers pivot suddenly from comedy to drama exceptionally well.

It’s in these switches of tone that this production flirts with four-star territory but it’s as if it’s afraid to match the sheer horror of the original or push the material into pure travesty when it could most effectively do both.

Until 20 August. Today 7:20pm.