Raymondo
raymondo

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre): Raymondo at Summerhall (Venue 26). Reviewed by Joyce McMillan

raymondo
[Annie Siddons weaves a rich and wild fable about two poor, exploited boys who devise a magic cloak]

IT’S VISIBLY inspired by the world of burlesque; and there are echoes, too, of the brilliant magical-realism voice of Angela Carter. Yet as Annie Siddons takes the stage to tell the story of Raymondo, she’s also weaving a completely original 21st-century tale of inspiration, exploitation, love and death.

With long hair flowing and gorgeous basque tightly laced, Siddons shares the space with guitarist Daniel Green (playing a score by Marcus Hamblett), with her own little harmonium keyboard, and with perhaps 20 glowing table-lamps of various sizes, all heavily shaded and fringed; the mood is late-night, dusky, sometimes erotically charged.

Yet the story Siddons tells – of her hero Raymondo and his vulnerable younger brother – is all innocence and strangeness, the tale of boys who escape a nightmare childhood of want and imprisonment thanks to a magical cloak of their own devising. They wander the world finding and losing love; and finally sell their precious creation for hard cash, only to find themselves exploited, and worked to the brink of death, by the factory owner who now also owns their idea.

This is the kind of story, though, in which a single glimpse of love matters more than a lifetime of mere survival. And it’s written with a rich, wild and precise poetry that breathes a colossal and sometimes angry humanity, even while its style defies the representation of ordinary human life and conjures up a world much more magical and strange, poised somewhere between reality and dream, or perhaps between life and death.

Until 24 August. Today 2:50pm, more info

Originally published in The Scotsman

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