Edinburgh Reviews: Men (Underbelly), Chalk Farm (Underbelly)

Men, Tap Tap Theatre, Underbelly ✭✭

Miriam Battye’s pedestrian drama begins in a cul-de-sac and never finds its way out. Scenes are repetitive and the pace is torpid; the drama never really ignites or intrigues. Despite strong performances, notably from Letty Thomas as Suze, who impresses in every scene, and a textured characterisation from Harrison Clark as Tom, the other roles are played by actors far too young for the parts which only lends the piece a decidedly studenty feel, and rather dulls the impact of the May to December relationship which is the crux of what little drama there is.

** (2 stars)
Runs until 26th August
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Chalk Farm, Thick Skin, Underbelly ✭✭✭

Thomas Dennis & Julia Taudevin shine in gorgeously nuanced performances in a well crafted production which takes a look at the impact of the London riots on a family unit. Dennis in particular gives a performance of outstanding clarity and intelligence, but it is Taudevin’s role as his mother who has the better written and more interesting story. Both handle the emotional shifts with subtlety, and Neil Bettles’ tight direction wisely gives full resonance to the spoken word. Ultimately though this production fails to pack a real punch; the story, while poetically written, fails to ring true, and Dennis’ part is a far less interesting version of the story than Taudevin’s. There is a crispness to the direction in the spoken sections which is lacking in the physical moments, allowing the production to feel loose around the edges and thus failing to command our attention throughout.

*** (3 stars)
Runs until 25th August
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