Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review Theatre: Light at Pleasance Dome (Venue 23), reviewed by Sally Stott

One of a number of powerful and haunting scenes that assault the audience throughout Light

While it is literally full of lights this is, in fact, a very dark piece – a sci-fi thriller about surveillance and the erosion of human rights in which we are regularly plunged into pitch black. Inspired in part by Edward Snowden’s revelations, it is about as near as you can get in a theatre to experiencing state-endorsed torture. Torches are shone in our faces; our eyes are barely given time to adjust to one scene before they are flitting to another; violent acts become all the more horrific as they are broken into disjointed chunks.

It’s not always an enjoyable show – and considering the subject matter, it doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to be – but it is an impressive one. There can be few companies ambitious enough to tackle a story about a family torn apart by a police state which covers dual timeframes and is delivered almost entirely through mime. It takes effort to work out what is going on. When characters, with identical boiler suits and shaved heads, spend much of their time in the shadows similar to in a graphic novel it is difficult to get to know or care about them.

The story does become clear, but as with a ballet or an opera – and with movement choreographed to a soaring, largely classical soundscape by Chris Bartholomew it does often feel like one – it might be easier to get to grips with if you read a synopsis first. Rarely do two of a show’s biggest stars sit in the dark at the back of the room, but that’s what lighting consultant and production electrician Matthew Leventhall and co-artistic director George Mann do here, injecting in exceptionally well-timed sound effects live. Together they create the show’s menacing world – one that’s admirably different to anything the company has done before, whether it’s Ballad of the Burning Star or Translunar Paradise.

Until 25 August

Originally published in The Scotsman

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