Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

Pick of Edinburgh

Dybbuk<br /> <em>King’s Theatre </em> Britt on Britt<br /> <em>Assembly Rooms </em> Surviving Spike<br /> <em>Assembly Rooms</em>

King’s Theatre

Britt on Britt
Assembly Rooms

Surviving Spike
Assembly Rooms

Perhaps it should be the Inter-notional Festival. The posh bit of Edinburgh, the International Festival, is incurably besotted with the idea of conceptual hybrids, of cross-fertilisation between cultures. Their first offering is Dybbuk, a show about Jews, ghosts and exorcism, set in Poland and performed in Polish with an idiot-board over the stage showing a translation for English-speakers. The story is a little hard to grasp. A bride has been possessed by the spirit of her dead lover on the eve of her wedding. Meanwhile, an emigrant somewhere in America is being haunted by a Holocaust victim who is also his half-brother. Establishing these complexities takes an hour. The show then proceeds using all kinds of dated diversions, gratuitous nudity, strawberry-eating, slow-motion dancing, multicoloured video snatches oozing tediously across the back wall.

The story has no energy. The characters are like dolls or playthings, plastic humanoid outlines enclosing stale air. There was no interval either — the show’s only intelligent concept — but even this failed in its primary goal of preventing a universal exodus. Bored punters started making noisy jail-breaks long before the performance ground into its third unhappy hour. No wonder. This fantastically tedious effort is a prime example of Footnote Theatre. On stage you see a few inscrutable hints and opaque gestures but the play’s true meaning lies in the exegesis offered by the author and/or director and their wordy conscripts who warble learnedly in the programme about Hamlet, about myth, about ghosts, about geists, about the future as a moment when history achieves parturition on the birthing blanket of the present.

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