City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland


By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 02 August 2008

Absolution, showing at the Assembly Rooms
Show details
Assembly Rooms
Theatre Tours International
Running time: 
Guy Masterson (producer), Rachel O'Riordan (director), Owen O'Neill (writer), James McFettridge (lighting designer), Matt Clifford (sound designer)
Owen O'Neill

Billy Connolly has been very open about it. The late John Peel included his own experience in his uncompleted memoirs. Red top newspapers flourish on tales of its occurrence up and down the land. We all want it to stop, and perhaps secretly wish it could simply vanish like a disease for which a vaccine has been found. Child abuse, as we somewhat coyly refer to the horrors perpetrated by otherwise 'decent' people, continues.

Owen O'Neill (actor and writer) is discovered lying on a bed, rising to lead us into a tortuous take on paedophilia and its effects, particularly when abusers are wearers of the Roman
Catholic cloth.

O'Neill is always a very watchable and measured performer, and this
is no exception, but the uncomfortable edge, unavoidable given the subject
matter, feels in some ways at least, partly to do with O'Neill's script.

character has been at least uncomfortably close to abuse, driven to exact
increasingly enormous revenge upon the perpetrators he discovers behind the
lace curtains of many a parochial home. The individuals at the receiving end of
summary justice are neatly delineated and described, their self-justifications
and self-disgust dealt with in fairly equal measure.

Time, and perhaps O'Neill's ability to
fully come to grips with what the experience of abuse can do to those abused
makes for a somewhat curtailed set of arguments, punctuated by laughter at the
horrific endings O'Neill's character gives to the writer's kiddie-fiddling clerics.
That O'Neill as actor is disposing in fantasy of the possible nemeses of the
character O'Neill as writer has created offers a level of irony rare among
Fringe shows of this length and genre.

The one-person 'story play' has become a
stock of Fringe theatre over the last couple of decades, and can work very
well. For a play made from the strong meat with which 'Absolution' deals,
however, length works against depth, leaving one longing for more of the latter,
which the dictates of the former cannot allow.

Times: 18.05 Dates; 2-25 August (not 11 or 18 August)
Copyright Bill Dunlop 2008. Published on, 2008