Part of the Edinburgh Horror Festival, at The Banshee Labyrinth just off Edinburgh’s ghostly Royal Mile, Edgar Allan Poe’s short tale is vividly reincarnated by the brilliant David Robb in partnership with the assured touch of director Flavia D’Avila.
All seems well in the town of Vondervotteimittiss (wonder-what-time-it-is), somewhere in the mountains of Holland (?), where the clock is king and the cabbage is queen, until a fiddle playing stranger comes a calling.
With rubber face and equally lithe body, Robb with just a handful of props shows just what can be achieved with very little indeed but with quite a bit of help from an entranced audience, who, with varying levels of enthusiasm, take on the role of central character Handel Fledermaus.
Handel, whose parents were unfortunately eaten, in what has become known as ‘the pigcident, is content in his life as the watchman of Vonder, until he spots a fiddle playing and cavorting ‘outsider’ on the hillside above the town. Unfortunately, the major and the high Council of Elders don’t believe him and suggest eating more leafy greens.
When the blacksmith’s wife and daughter then disappear having last been spotted in Handel’s house, fingers begin to be pointed and tongues wagged.
In a wonderfully created tale, Robb is a whirlwind of characters and caricatures, whimsical wonder, comical britches and three pointed hat. A fairy-tale fantasy with an allegorical xenophobic message for our times and a nicely rounded ending. Takes Poe’s dark tale and adds a touch of The Grinch and The Hobbit to bring it into the 21st century with aplomb.
Reviewer: Greg Holstead
Reviewed: 26th October 2023
North West End UK Rating: