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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me @markffisher and @writeabouttheat I am an Edinburgh-based freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian, Scotland on Sunday and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success, published in February 2012 and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers published in July 2015. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide. See my website for more information and comprehensive Scottish theatre links.
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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Interiors, Vanishing Point review

Published in the Guardian © Mark Fisher

Interiors

Traverse, Edinburgh
5 out of 5

Imagine watching Festen with the sound turned off. You would see family and friends gather for their celebratory meal, you would have a sense of the tensions and attractions between them, but on a dialogue basis you would be left guessing. This is the effect of Interiors, an audacious production by Glasgow's Vanishing Point - en route to the Lyric Hammersmith and the Naples Theatre festival - performed behind a glass window that turns the audience into voyeurs and the actors into characters whose actions speak louder than words.

Inspired by Maurice Maeterlinck's early symbolist play Interior, in which a visitor interrupts a family gathering with news of a daughter's death, Matthew Lenton's production is at once whimsical silent comedy and touching meditation on the transitory nature of life. What starts as a light-hearted gimmick builds into a beguiling piece of theatre that is sad, funny and heartbreakingly humane.

Its premise is simple. We are in the depths of winter in the kind of northerly country where people travel with shotguns for fear of wild animals. An elderly widower, played with exquisite tenderness by Andrew Melville, holds his annual dinner to mark the approaching spring. His guests arrive and do the things that guests do - eat, flirt, dance, joke and squabble - until it is time to fade back into the night.

We hear not a word of this apart from the wry commentary of a ghostly Elicia Daly, who stays on our side of the divide, and yet the subtext comes across more volubly than classic Chekhov. The incidents have an archetypal familiarity - exploring varying degrees of social embarrassment from thwarted teenage crush to a mid-meal nose bleed and a fated marriage proposal - yet what could have been a slight comedy of manners becomes deliciously poignant.

© Mark Fisher, 2009

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