Theatre review: Velvet Evening Seance

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: It's a strange tale that is told in this new show from the award-winning team of director Ross McKay and writer Suzie Miller; but it has the odd effect of leaving us not much the wiser about why it's being told at all.

Assembly Hall (Venue 35)


On a scaffold-like wooden set by Becky Minto, solo performer Scott Gilmour takes up the role of Jamie Macgregor, a minister’s son from the North-east of Scotland who, back in the late 19th century, becomes seized by a belief in the spirit world.

He shares his enthusiasm with his older brother, who turns out to be a gifted medium; and in no time their successful seances become the toast of Edinburgh and then London, until a strange mix of passionate belief, nagging doubt, and fierce sibling rivalry bring them to disaster.

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Now, Jamie is on trial for murder; and Scott Gilmour makes a fine job of bringing to life this strange, baffled Scottish small-town boy, using his passionate belief
in the spirits to argue for his life.

The accompanying piano score, composed and played live by Jim Harbourne, is superb, sinister and dreamlike, although the story often moves at a soporific pace; and in the end, we’re left with an impressively well-made show – created by new companies Freshly Squeezed Productions and Uncertainty Principle, with support from Aberdeen Performing Arts – that nonetheless seems more like an exercise in high-quality theatre-making than an act of communication, involving a story that needs to be told.

Until 28 August. Today 4:30pm.