Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre): Who Did I Think I Was? at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House (Venue 170). Review by Alison Kerr
This thought-provoking one-man show, part of the Free Fringe, may be staged in one of the least hospitable, least noise-proof venues on the circuit, but it is sufficiently absorbing and entertaining to distract from the surroundings.
Its writer, Peter Henderson, gives a terrific, beautifully observed performance as an octogenarian war hero contentedly living the bachelor life, with a daily routine that comprises multiple pill-taking, sneezing, a daily morning phone call to his “lady friend” to check that they have both survived the night, and pruning her wisteria in return for favours of the confectionery variety.
A request from the Imperial War Museum for his war memories forces him to reflect on his life which, despite his cheery and pragmatic personality, has not been as uncomplicated or cheerful as one might assume. Indeed, every time he starts to speak into the dictaphone about the war, it leads him down another, much more personal route and he has to rewind the tape and start again.
Spliced into the old man’s reminiscences are those of his grown-up son, Peter, an alcoholic with a cheeky chappy persona and messy relationship history, who is about to come and live with him.
His revelations about his childhood and the knock-on effects of it on his adult life highlight the difference in how the generations deal with expressing their emotions, and with mental illness.
Poignant and often laugh-out-loud funny, Who Did I Think I Was? highlights the fact that there is more to every life than what can be gleaned simply from appearances – and that everyone has a story waiting to be told.
Until 24 August. Today 2:30pm.
Originally published in The Scotsman
Going to the Edinburgh Festival?
• Unsure what to see? Read all The Scotsman reviews
• What’s hot (or not): Browse the reviews by star rating
• Don’t miss a thing. Sign up to our daily email newsletter
• Join the conversation with #WOWFEST and follow it live