About Me

My Photo
Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
View my complete profile


Blog Archive

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Going Dark, theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Three stars

YOU see a pinprick of light. It could be the beam of an optician testing your peripheral vision. Or it could be the twinkle of Andromeda, a mere 2.5m light years away and the nearest spiral galaxy to our own. This is the shift in perspective, from closeup to long shot, that Sound and Fury plays with in Going Dark, a show that transports us from the unfathomable depths of outer space to the encroaching darkness of a man losing his sight to retinitis pigmentosa.

The great strength in this immersive one-man play - by the team behind the submarine drama of Kursk - is in its technical precision. We are sitting in a miniature planetarium, the arc of the Milky Way above our heads and a low-level soundtrack of the natural world breezing in from all sides. There is almost no colour in the picture created by directors Mark Espiner and Dan Jones, and frequently there is no light. It has the effect of intensifying our senses of sight and sound, as we strain to appreciate every glimmer and whisper.

Actor John Mackay gives a finely judged performance as a single parent and planetarium guide losing sight of his six-year-old son at home and of the entire universe at work. To keep his bearings, he grips the sides of a light box from which projections and images magically emerge. A crumpled piece of paper in his hand starts to glow like a miniature sun. A photograph in a dark room develops before our eyes.

Hattie Naylor's script is full of the head-spinning facts that make astronomy both frightening and fascinating, but the play lacks the kind of metaphorical dimension of, say, Robert Lepage's Far Side of the Moon, that would give a sad but routine story the cosmic dimensions to which it aspires.

© Mark Fisher, 2011

More coverage at

No comments: