Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Giant Leap, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Claire Smith.
How do you come up with a really good line? How important are words when it comes to making history and what if the words are based on a lie?
Conspiracy theory becomes reality in this play about the fake moon landings written by Mickey Down and Konrad Kay and produced with the Comedians’ Theatre Company.
We are in an airless bunker where a group of unlikely characters have been assembled to come up with the sentence to be said by Neil Armstrong during the fake live television broadcast from the moon.
Comedian Lewis Schaffer is washed-up New York comic Mitch Gitin – whose dreams of playing Madison Square Gardens are receding fast.
Canadian comic Tom Stade plays an erudite, once promising novelist Frank Paar, now blacklisted for being a communist and drowning in whisky.
Overseeing the operation is terrifyingly unhinged film producer Jay Weinberg – embodied with demonic glee by comic Phil Nichol. An African-American secretary, a government beaurocrat and a weirdly unpredictable military colonel are also inhabitants of this morally bankrupt universe.
In their basement, Gitin, Paar and the others wrestle with words – looking for emotion, for universality and for the common touch for their epoch-making moment.
Will it be the mercurial wit of the comic or the literary sensibilities of the novelist that produce the century-defining words?
Down and Kay’s writing about writing is superb. The notion of creating a whole play about the crafting of a single well-known sentence is inspired.
The direction could be more coherent – but with so much comedic energy gathered on one stage it might take a while for the production to settle into its rhythm.
Schaffer as Gitin has some brilliantly funny lines, while Paar’s contributions add a literary and cultural perspective to a fascinating exploration of language, creation, fakery and theft.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015
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