City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Deep Cut

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 07 August 2008

Deep Cut
Show details
Traverse Theatre
Sherman Cymru
Running time: 
Mick Gordon (director), Philip Ralph (writer), Igor Vasiljev (designer), Andrew Jones (lighting designer), Mike Furness (sound designer),
Ciaran McIntryre (Des James), Rhian Morgan (Doreen James), Robert Bowman (Brian Cathcart), Robert Blythe (Frank Swann), Jonesy (Rhian Blythe), Simon Molloy (Nicholas Blake, Q. C.)

It could be anyone's living room. Less tidy,
with a layer of dust, it could be this reviewer's. In a theatre, you could be
forgiven for expecting comedy, but this set represents the home of Des and
Doreen James, whose daughter Cheryl died at Deep Cut Barracks, one of four
young people to do so.

For most of us, it's a thankfully unimaginable possibility
to lose a child. More unimaginable is not to know how it happened, and to be
systematically prevented from discovering this. The James and the families of
the other three have experienced exactly that over an ever increasing number of
years. "Dramatic" as the events at Deep Cut and their aftermath may have been
described, to turn them into theatre of genuine integrity both of content and
craft is a very considerable achievement, and that is what's achieved here.

the sorry tale of botched investigation, clumsy cover-up, outright denial and
bureaucratic whitewash, Des (Ciaran McIntryre) and Doreen (Rhian Morgan) are
ably supported by journalist Brain Cathcart (Robert Bowman), forensics expert
Frank Swann (Robert Blythe), and Cheryl's friend Jonesy (Rhian Blythe).
Nicholas Blake, Q.C., (Simon Molloy) is given the difficult task of presenting
counter-argument to the weight of evidence against the findings of his report
on matters at Deep Cut.

The play never loses its rootedness in the home of a
bereaved family, which gives strength to the argument that the loss of four
young lives should not have been dismissed as lightly as they seem very clearly
to have been. Deep Cut is very aware which side it is on; this is political
theatre with no need of apology, taking on official Bumbledom and political
spin by careful use of both written sources and verbatim testimony to make its
case. Deep Cut does so very effectively, cutting each argument officialdom
has used to protect its own by demonstrating the unlikeliness of each of them.

acting here is quite superb, given the challenges of representing the living being
largely themselves. A remarkable piece of theatre one hopes, but can scarcely
expect, will move the undoubted case for further investigation at least a little
further forward. A last point - the script, with extensive notes and additional material, is available at the venue for £8.99. For anyone with an interest in Deep Cut and the subsequent enquiries, it's essential reading.

Times: Aug 1-23, times vary (see Fringe Programme)

Copyright Bill Dunlop August 2008

Published on August 2008