City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge

By Lorraine McCann - Posted on 17 August 2008

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The Beehoovers
Running time: 
Robert Brazil (director), Bill Dunlop (script and lyrics)
Claire Naylor (Bleu), Simonne Hurse (Rouge), Lois Parker-Smith (Blanc)

As its title suggests, this new play by Bill Dunlop has more than just a soupcon of the French about it. Set squarely amid the chaos of Paris during the Revolution, it filters events through the thoughts and experiences of three lowly seamstresses: Bleu, Blanc and Rouge. In so doing, it gives us a glimpse into what it might be like to live in a place and time where people gave up their lives for a dream, some might say a fantasy, of freedom.

Well-staged in period costume, this production draws the audience in with its naturalistic design. The three women go about their business making dresses for their well-to-do clients, all the while reflecting on the agitators in the streets, on their working conditions, on the character of their king, and on the lack of male company in their lives. Events that many of us will remember from school history class, such as the tennis-court oath and the beheading of Danton, happen within sight of their window, and cause them to speculate on where it will all lead.

In this respect, they are timeless - individuals more immediately concerned with their own survival than with the failure or success of the revolutionaries who are seizing power. "They can't do a worse job than who's in charge now," they shrug, encapsulating in the late 1700s the sort of bland detachment one hears everywhere today. And likewise, as the revolution advances with grim inevitability towards becoming the new establishment, Blanc observes bitterly that "this isn't a revolution any more, it's just an ‘excuse me' in which the partners change but the dance goes on as before."

Polished performances and sure-footed direction complement a weighty script. If I have a niggle, it's that the need for so much reported action off-stage leads to what is on stage feeling slightly marginal. But the integrated songs are a delight and a particularly affecting final scene brings the whole piece to a moving end. All in all, this is intelligent drama packed with flair and wit. Admirable indeed.

Times: Aug 11-23 at 14:00