Tuesday, July 5

An Unexpected Hiccup – The Studio, Edinburgh

“An Unexpected Hiccup” was directed by Ian Cameron and Maria Oller and produced by touring theatre company Plutôt La Vie and Lung Ha Theatre Company, an Edinburgh-based theatre company for people with a learning disability.

It tells the story of Murdo, a musician who, caught in a storm, is forced to take refuge in an isolated house whose inhabitants he may or may not have mutual friends with. They also seem to have quite a lot going on, including an apparently dying father in the next room and a fair few conflicting stories about what’s going on…

The play is based on a story by co-director Ian Cameron, itself apparently inspired by something that happened to him years ago. The script was subsequently developed by Michael Duke and the cast, Emma Clark, Ryan Duncan, Tim Licata, Emma McCaffrey, Nicola Tuxworth, Keith Watson and Gavin Yule.

This extra phase of development by the acting ensemble is particularly obvious throughout. Really, the story is just a vehicle for each character’s moment in the spotlight (sometimes literally, in the case of a song-number), and as such the plot’s various set-ups function more as individual moments and jokes for the characters than as story elements for later development.

In terms of giving each of the cast their moment to shine, the show is definitely successful. The cast’s energy and enthusiasm is obvious throughout the show and each got their share of laughs from the audience. This is especially commendable considering this was the first time most of the cast had performed farce (for which they all received training in rehearsal), and, of course, the rehearsal process’s covid restrictions, with weeks of developments happening on zoom before the first face to face rehearsal and the return to the theatre room. However, it does make the play feel often fragmented, and as we end with many questions unanswered, this becomes a big part of one’s last impression.

Farce has sometimes been summed up as a series of quick entrances and exits, and Karen Tennent’s set design definitely facilitates that, with a whole back wall being nothing but a series of different-looking doors for the cast to surprise each other from and use to convey the size and confusion of the house in which the unfortunate Murdo is a guest.

The music, composed and performed by BAFTA Scotland award winning composer Andrew Cruickshank, is also an integral part of the show, not only opening and closing the show but also leading in several afore-mentioned songs performed by the cast.

However, for a show that describes itself as “gothic”, the lack of pay-off for the dying man in the next room, his family secrets and his will are an issue which, for this viewer at least, the play’s farcical nature does not overcome. The passion, hard work and professionalism is visible throughout, both on and off-stage, and the performers’ enthusiasm and humour is catching, but a tighter focus on the play’s story would have really helped elevate it into something truly special. https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/an-unexpected-hiccup

Reviewer: Oliver Giggins

Reviewed: 26th October 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★