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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, September 23, 2012

The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam, theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Random Accomplice at the Tron
Three stars

WE don't normally regard slipping into the background as an attribute, but 15-year-old Sam McTannan thinks being a wallflower is his greatest gift. He likes not being noticed, he enjoys escaping attention and is unsurprised when Violet Morgana, the girl of his dreams, still does not recognise him after three years of school together.

As a Superman obsessive, he treats this cloak of invisibility as a superpower and, in Johnny McKnight's teen-friendly play for Random Accomplice, he is naturally distressed when his ability suddenly fades. The moment his parents die in a car crash (like many a comic-book adventure, this tale has tragic origins), he becomes the centre of attention. See-through no more, he is the boy noticed by everyone – from earnest home-economics teacher to fussing relative and jealous school bully. Losing his parents is bad enough, but this is an introverted teenager's worst nightmare.

Persuasively played by James Young, Sam has not only the stumbling inarticulacy of your typical teenage boy, but a rich interior life defined by his love of superheroes and the memory of his parents. One of the strengths of the script, with its mix of direct audience address and regular dialogue, is its sensitivity to Sam's many faces: gawky adolescent, vivid fantasist, best mate, lover-in-waiting. When he mumbles incoherently in front of the teacher, the audience understand the complexity of what he would like to say.

In his own production, McKnight offsets the serious themes with the multi-role-playing fun of Julie Brown and James Mackenzie (particularly terrifying as love-rival Chunk) and the running commentary of Jamie Macdonald's black-and-white animations. Despite the playwright's way with a one-liner, however, the production is not as funny as you might expect, partly because the coming-of-age story is more familiar than subversive, but it does build to a touching and surprisingly tragic conclusion.

© Mark Fisher, 2012
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