Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Idiots, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Billy Barrett.
This amusingly anarchic devised piece inspired by Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot imagines the late Russian author in limbo between heaven and hell, looking back over his life as he awaits the final judgment and occasionally transforming into his novel’s hero Prince Mishkin.
As a theatrical experience, it’s far from purgatorial – live music, fun, physicality and raucous comedy make for a mostly entertaining hour as we’re given a surreal whistle-stop tour through the writer’s wild life and times, playfully merging history with literary themes and characters.
Caligula’s Alibi co-artistic director Jonnie Bayfield takes on the swaggeringly rambunctious central role, acting as an MC of sorts to the cabaret-style format. The opening ten minutes of the show are perhaps the most enjoyable, as he heckles the audience over its lack of familiarity with the Russian canon and goes gloriously off-script into interactive improv.
Idiots works best when it conforms to this comic style – the love-triangle between Mishkin, Parfyon and Nastasya Fillippovna makes for an entertainingly dark drama, but with all the stylistic flourishes – the cast are whited-up in fading clownish make up – doesn’t really ring true, so the show’s more serious moments can feel forced.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
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