Theatre review: Frogman

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: In a darkened room in a tech centre round the corner from the Traverse, an audience of 20 or so sits in a circle, each perched on a swivel chair, wearing both earphones and a large, hot, heavy headset with goggles.

Traverse at CodeBase (Venue 318)


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On the headsets, we can see and hear 360 degree filmed images ­representing the sea around the Great Barrier Reef off north-east Australia, and the bedroom of a motherless ­ten-year girl called Meera, whose Dad works as a police diver in the area.

On stage, meanwhile – when the screened image tells us to take the headset off – we can see Tessa Parr, as the grown-up Meera, delivering a terrific, absorbing solo performance as a woman suddenly confronted, 20 years on, with the arrest of her now-retired dad for possible involvement in the murder of a school friend of hers, who was thought to have drowned near the reef after running away and stealing a boat.

At the moment, the sheer cumbersome weight of the headset technology involved outweighs any value it might have in relation to this ­particularly story; the headset material is really only film, rather than a gateway to an interactive world, and could have been projected on the walls with as much vividness and less trouble. There’s no doubt that ­headset ­technology may expand the possibilities of theatre in future; but this murder ­mystery – if it is a murder – gains little from it, and the sheer brilliance of Parr’s live performance only whets our appetite for more of that, and less of the ­goggles.

Until 27 August. 26 August 6pm and 9pm.