City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Investigation Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 14 August 2011

Show details
Zoo Southside
3Bugs Fringe Theatre
Running time: 
Peter Weiss (writer), Kate Baiden (director), Rebecca Targett (producer), Alisa Holt (choreography) Patrick Neil Doyle (musical director)
Peter Dewhurst (Defence Counsel), Eleanor Dodson (Witness 5 & Defendant 10), Tom Everatt (Witness 1 & Defendant 2), Christina Jones (Witness 4 & Defendant 11), Alice Kennedy (Witness 3 & Defendant 14), Matt Saull (Witness 8 & Defendant 1), Ken Thomson (The Judge), Nanci Veitch (Witness 6 & Defendant 7)

The Investigation’s writer Peter Weiss, was born in Germany in 1916. In 1934 he and his family were forced to flee Nazi Germany and eventually settled in Sweden. The Investigation was written in 1965 and deals with the Frankfurt War Crime trials, dealing with holocaust perpetrators, that took place at that time. It is written in verbatim style and staged in 11 cantos.

3Bugs Fringe Theatre was founded in 2003 with the purpose of allowing members to take productions to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is dedicated to the creation and support of alternative, experimental and bold theatre such as the work of Weiss.

The performance took place in Zoo Southside’s Studio where for the start of the show,  the ceiling upstairs was shaken and battered like an inconsiderate music- blasting neighbour (it is the Fringe after all) but this professional young group were focussed and undeterred.

Under a harsh light, the courtroom scenes of these important trials are movingly represented by this committed cast. A series of unnamed witnesses of Auschwitz come forward with their individual testaments of the abject and unspeakable cruelty that was meted out to them. The cast plays both victim and perpetrator, an excellent metaphor for the play itself and the paradox what it is to be human.  The victims are played vulnerably barefoot; the officials safely shod. They give harrowing and graphic descriptions of medical experiments carried out with their equally distressing effects, dramatised through the group’s poignant discipline of physical theatre.

The pain and horror was made evident in the cast’s gestures and were strongly felt in what is a highly emotive piece. Continuously falling and feet thumping the stage sound like rifle clicks on the floor, and the sight of them moving as one with hands over each others’ mouths were memorable. Their symbolic frantic chalking of the Nazi work slogan Arbeit Macht Frei (posted above the entrance to Auschwitz) was another significant part of the play, showing the irony and wastefulness of these particular words in these depraved circumstances.

This is a compelling, absorbing, and arresting drama from a young ambitious and brave company that is re -telling a story that can never be told enough. They do this with an original score, contemporary dance and the simplicity of significant props like the trunk used as worst kind of cell.

There were details in the text, like the tablet licking in hospital, that still have power to chill. Yet they end with beautiful German singing that rose to an amazing choir strength for the size of the cast.

Show times

7-13, 15-20, 22-29 August, 21.15


£7.50 (£6)