Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Splitfoot, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Susan Mansfield.
In the years after the American Civil War, three sisters from a small village in upstate New York claim they can talk to the dead. Although later unmasked as frauds, the Fox sisters are credited with being founders of the spiritualist movement.
Five performers from Brooklyn-based Piper Theatre tell their story in a production which oozes atmosphere and melodrama, although it sometimes lacks clarity.
Were the Fox sisters simply marginalised women who realised they could capitalise on the public’s gullibility in a society traumatised by war and fascinated by the afterlife? What is the role played by the strange pedlar man who arrives at the Fox home late at night? And who is the mysterious, charismatic Splitfoot, who seems to manipulate the action?
There are at least two stories struggling for supremacy here. In the last 15 minutes, the story of the Fox sisters becomes surpassed by that of a returning soldier, haunted by what happened to his comrade and childhood friend.
This story has little to do with spiritualism, being more about friendship and war and loss, and begins to engage our attention in a different way. Perhaps it belongs in a separate play.
C Nova (Venue 145) until 22 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
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