Edinburgh Reviews: The Shawshank Redemption (Assembly), Hag (Underbelly)

The Shawshank Redemption, Assembly Rooms ✭✭

In the most-publicised show on this year’s Fringe, there is so much that works – a startlingly beautiful performance from Ian Lavender, delicate work from Jack Monaghan, an impressive set and lighting, and a grounded and quietly compelling central performance from Kyle Secor as Andy Dufresne. What a shame then that the adaptation is so torpid and fails to live up to the hype. Lucy Pitman-Wallace’s rambling and casual direction neglects to bring focus to the piece and Omid Djalili as Red, the lynchpin of the drama and narrator, lacks the emotional range to hold the show together. It strives for grandeur but lacks pace, passion and, crucially, point.

** (2 stars)
Runs until 25th August
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Hag, Underbelly Cowgate, ✭✭✭

Hannah Mulder who writes and directs this deliciously creepy fairytale brings a considerable deftness of touch to a script that relies a little too heavily on narrative exposition. The subterranean atmosphere of the Underbelly is amplified by dripping water, a heavy gloom, and a perfectly creepy set of rags, rubbish and swinging skulls. Employing puppetry, music and a dash of dark humour, Hag is a horrible treat for children that just falls short of containing enough to disturb the adults in the audience. Strong physical work and deft characterisation bring the whole unsettling creation to life.

*** (3 stars)
Runs until 26th August
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