Frank Sent Me

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre): Frank Sent Me at Underbelly Bristo Square (Venue 300). Review by Sally Stott

A MAN is dressing his partner, telling him what to wear, fussing over his shirt, his hair, his tie. This man could be going for a job interview or a meeting at work in just another office job – but no, instead he’s preparing to be driven to his death by the mob.

It’s rare to see a gangster play that is this original and this funny or, indeed, has any gay characters – not that the men’s sexuality is ever really directly referred to. Julian Poidevin’s richly observed writing, full of life and humour, artfully directed by Peter Darney, is never as clumsy as that.

In the world of a Martin Scorsese film paired with the structure of a working class East End farce, the juxtaposition of comedy with the gravity of the situation creates a heightened but heart-racing kind of tension.

Why don’t the couple just run away, you might think – even more so when a kid who could have stepped out of Bugsy Malone turns up to do the job. At first it seems incredulous that they don’t, but when the gang’s hold not only on them but their families becomes apparent, their lack of options ceases to be so funny.

Beneath the bravado and some truly brilliant bickering is real tragedy, one in which playing your role as killer or victim is a destiny that cannot be escaped. With three lovely performances from Rob Pomfret, Matthew Gibbs and Izaak Cainer, it’s one of those hidden gems that is so exciting to find at the Fringe (or it would be if Stephen Fry hadn’t tweeted about it first). The ending comes a little too suddenly – perhaps in a piece cut to fit an hour-long time slot – but as a piece of subtly subversive entertainment, it’s a pleasure to watch.

Until 25 August. Today 12:25pm, more info

Originally published in The Scotsman

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