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Frank Sidebottom The Home of the Retrospective


Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well! Live stage shows in Central Scotland, be they Shakespeare or avant-garde.

Edinburgh Fringe 2017: Catherine and Anita @ Assembly Rooms

What the Edinburgh Fringe website says:

All hell breaks loose when a tortured young misfit named Catherine strikes up a friendship with the mysterious Anita. As their unlikely relationship develops, their world escalates into a violent cycle of destruction and revenge. Told over the course of decades, Catherine and Anita is a comedy about heartbreak, illness and ultimately how those in need so often slip through life's cracks.

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Partners in crime

This one-woman play features actress Sarah Roy as Catherine, an intelligent but somewhat unhinged young lady. It starts with her interacting with an off-stage (unseen and unheard) friend named Anita, whom she asks for help in getting rid of the evidence of an implied murder victim. While Anita goes to the shops to buy hacksaws and cleaning equipment, the story flashes back to the beginnings of their friendship.

The play’s structure continues flitting back and forth in time, building up a jigsaw puzzle of a psychologically damaged women and the sick, tragic relationships that have shaped her life.

Minimalist play

Sometimes the most minimal of plays are the best, and Catherine and Anita is a case in point. While various characters enter the story, they remain unseen and unheard, meaning that Sarah is acting entirely against thin air. However, the script is cleverly written so that the two-way flow of the conversation is obvious from her dialogue. She really carries it all on her shoulders with an intense performance; at one moment the audience might be unnerved or amused by her bizarre demeanour, but at another will be deeply saddened by how inherently bleak her character’s life really is.

The story is played with a welcome vein of black humour, but it never degenerates into a mere extended sick joke. There is a lot of depth and character development, much of which is cleverly alluded to at various points in the script rather then spelt out right from the start. It all plays like a particularly gruelling court case unfolding before our eyes, with the details gradually building up to a harrowing picture. The audience’s opinions on the various characters portrayed will be shaped and altered dramatically throughout.

The most elaborate aspects of the production are the lighting and sound, which are particularly prominent during the interludes linking the flashbacks. The use of period pop tunes and disco-style lights might seem gimmicky at first, but clicks well as we gain greater understanding of the play’s direction.

The only issue I had with the show was the venue itself; the Front Room at the Assembly Rooms - or rather a Portacabin placed on George Street amid the temporary bar and box office area. There was too much noise pollution from the outside. Despite this (and last night’s presence of a few audience members who clearly had too much to drink), this inventive play is one of the highlights of the festival.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Tickets are available from the following link:

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 logo

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