Elegy

THEATRE
Elegy
Whitespace (Venue 116)
3 stars ***

THERE’S NO DOUBTING the powerful good intentions behind this one-hour monologue, presented by the Folkestone-based company Transport at Whitespace in Gayfield Square. Inspired by the plight of gay men in Iraq, it takes the form of an almost dream-like monologue performed by co-creator of the show Jamie Bradley, in the character of a young man who has fled from his country, and from the friend he loves, after witnessing a scene of public violence so horrific that he has almost suppressed it from his memory.

The show’s setting, in the empty Whitespace gallery, is memorably atmospheric, as Bradley rouses himself from sleep on what looks like a pile of discarded clothes and rucksacks, and tells his story of forced migration, of uneasy residence in strange cities, of the memories that force themselves on him, and of long, terrible journeys in the backs of vans and trucks towards some unknowable destination. In the end, neither the writing nor the performance really measure up to the subject in hand; they smack more of vivid, sometimes awkward attempts to imagine the unimaginable, than of real, lived experience.

Yet Bradley and his director and co-creator, Douglas Rintoul, appoach an important subject with real passion; and if their show ends up saying something fairly obvious about the routine oppression of gay people in a country where they have no rights, it does so with commitment and grace, and a final moving coup-de-theatre, as the great gallery door slides open, and Bradley disappears into the gathering Edinburgh darkness.

Joyce McMillan
Until 28 August
p. 259

ENDS ENDS

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