Fringe Theatre Reviews: The Fantastical

Elements of the fantastical combine in three plays from this year's Edinburgh Fringe – here we take a look at Pirates and Mermaids, Spectretown and I Am Beast

Feature by Alice Lannon | 08 Sep 2015

Pirates and Mermaids [★★★★☆] is a fabulously heart-warming and captivating storytelling show, exploring long distance love and the concept of home. The audience walk into a New York Registry office to see a man in a kilt, clearly waiting for a wedding. It is done so cleverly and informally, taking a while to build up so that you forget this is a performance. Instead, it feels like you're hearing the life story of an exceptionally interesting and friendly stranger. Pirates adventure far from home, and mermaids sit on the same bit of rock their whole lives. Through this metaphor we see how hard a place Scotland is to leave and how to handle being away from the place you call home. The audience are encouraged to contribute at certain points – it's then that you realise everyone has their own story inside of them, just waiting for someone to ask them to share. Part show, part therapy, this is 90 minutes of pure joy, which feels like eating a comforting, traditional pudding and your gran tucking you into bed at the same time.  

Spectretown [★★★☆☆] is an atmospheric theatre piece which gives some insight into the idea of cultural inheritance in Scotland across generations. Written in Doric, it takes a short while to get into the swing of the rich language of the play, though the ear does attune. The problem is that while the play does give off a strong vibe of the atmosphere of Aberdeenshire across the years, the storyline is quite hard to follow and therefore not as captivating as it has the potential to be. On the other hand, the music is very haunting and works well within the context of the play, and visually the play is very striking.

I Am Beast [★★★★☆] is a genuinely moving and captivating depiction of a young girl’s grief after the death of her mother. In her despair she creates a rich imaginary landscape within her family home and within her relationship with her father – in which she is a superhero, fighting back against her pain. As well as being a colourful and captivating, the show also involves some very skilfully executed stage fighting. This show may very well move you to tears. 

Pirates and Mermaids, Scottish Storytelling Centre, run ended

Spectretown, Assembly Hall, touring Scotland

I Am Beast, Pleasance Courtyard, run ended