Fast @ theSpace, Niddry St

An intense, dark drama, made all the more chilling due to the authenticity of its roots

Review by Elaine Reid | 21 Aug 2018

Set in Washington State in 1910, Fast by Kate Barton, which was shortlisted by New Writing South for Best New Play Award 2018, bills itself as a dark psychological drama based on true events.

The room is gloomily illuminated, save a few dim lights and a simple projector screen, which flashes up images of sensational newspaper headlines. This darkness effectively sets the scene for the intense and sinister atmosphere which reigns throughout as we are introduced to “Doctor” Linda Hazzard, played compellingly by Caroline Lawrie. Hazzard runs a sanatorium offering promises of a fasting cure, but the patients, alas, do not always survive, and the growing death list is gripping the interest of the local press.

Introduced to English sisters, Claire and Dora Williamson, who decide to attend the sanatorium, we witness the manner in which the public were sucked into the hype of a miracle, alternative cure for their maladies. And it’s the scene between the two sisters, played with conviction by Stephanie James and Kate Barton before they enter the sanatorium, which is perhaps the most entertaining and original, as their sharp and witty sibling banter, pings back and forth with ease.

But events soon take a dark turn on entering the sanatorium, as the sisters are separated, food rations restricted and a weird array of daily treatments begin, as Hazzard plays God with their health.

The play shines an interesting light on the search people continue to make today for a miracle tablet or remedy for whatever disease their anxiety-ridden Google search has told them they have. But, there’s a sense in which this particular story has been trodden before and the play lacks an originality to enable it to challenge or shock its audience. Overall though, this is an intense, dark drama, made all the more chilling due to the authenticity of its roots.

Fast @ theSpace, Niddry St, 20 - 25 Aug, 8pm, £7/£9

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