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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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Friday, December 11, 2009

Zorro, Visible Fictions/Traverse review

Published in The Guardian

Zorro

Traverse, Edinburgh
4 out of 5

Zorro, it often seems, is simply not there. He's just a swish of a sword and a swoop of a cape, a blur of movement perplexing his enemies and thrilling his audience. At other times, he is a cardboard cut-out, perching on a rooftop that has suddenly appeared from nowhere on Robin Peoples's pop-up book of a set (which gets its own spontaneous burst of applause). At other times still, he is no superhero at all, but plain old stable boy Don Diego de la Vega, played by Sandy Grierson with a humility that contrasts with the swagger he brings to the masked swordsman.

Zorro, in this Visible Fictions/Traverse co-production, is an enigma, an ideal, a man of perfect athleticism and flawless morals, as sexually potent as he is awesome in combat. Yet this is also a story with loud echoes of The Ugly Duckling. Playwright Davey Anderson shows us the powerless boy behind the mask, an orphan whose inner strengths go unappreciated, not least by Claire Dargo's Isabella. When she tells Zorro he is "deeply misunderstood, like me", the line resonates with irony.

In Douglas Irvine's production, Richard Conlon adds a streak of Iago-like malice as a duplicitous Captain Esteban, driving the plot forward as he threatens chastity, innocence and honour. Borrowing the style (and one of the jokes) of David Greig's 2008 musical Midsummer, this is a compelling piece of third-person storytelling in which the three actors create a vivid sense of a pre-gold rush California with the swashbuckling pace of an adventure movie.

In the best Saturday matinee tradition, it even ends with the possibility of a sequel – and this is one Zorro who deserves to fight another day.

Until Christmas Eve. Box office: 0131-228 1404.

© Mark Fisher 2009

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