City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Fast Film Noir Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 04 August 2013

Fast Film Noir performance
Show details
Braindead Theatre
Running time: 
Cathy Hudson (director / producer), Amie O'Keeffe and Jayne Hymers (assistant directors), Ella Howe (lighting designer), Amy O'Keeffe (sound designer), Sophie Matthew and Jo Peach (choreographers).
Nick Brown (Jack Munroe), Skye Hallam-Hankin (Evelyn Woodrow-Rowley), Sophie Matthew (Ava Woodrow), Stefan Fletcher (Narrator/ Detective Herbie / Kanino / Carol / gangster), Sophie Futter (Mrs Woodrow / Schneider / Little Guy / dancer), Dom Luck (Charlie Star / Earl Brady / Art Huck), Lily Dodsworth-Evans (Book store assistant / dancer), Georgie Stafford (Alice / Charlie Star's wife / gangster), Jo Peach (Baby).

There is perhaps some precedent for a re-working of the classic film noir "The Big Sleep". Raymond Chandler, author of the novel on which it was based did after all cannibalise his earlier short stories to come up with the plot.

This show is presented as a playful tribute to the genre, condensing the plotline, changing characters and setting and lending a darker spin. Certainly there are stylistic elements with backlit silhouettes, low-key lighting and voice-over narration, but other productions have captured the ambiance with much more panache. 

The re-christening of the characters is more of a mystery and it's difficult to see what is gained in swapping, for example, Philip Marlowe for Jack Munroe, Mars to Star, or Brody to Brady.

Excepting a twist to the end most of the plot mirrors the original. Not that this is the most important part, as even in its film form it had a few loose ends (inherited from its cut and paste origins) and was impossibly convoluted.

For Chandler the plot was almost secondary, the interest being in the characters and atmosphere. This allows the story to be a bit of an entertaining romp and the production has taken advantage of this to make a sort of showcase, adding song and dance to the speakeasy setting. 

While well enough done it sits rather uneasily against the hardboiled dialogue, much of which has been lifted from the film, which generally works. Lines like “She tried to sit on my lap when I was standing up" are hard to resist and the double-entendres of the horse-racing discussion remain racy.

The other legendary aspect is the Bogie-Bacall love connection and while this is cited as the show's inspiration it would be unfair to expect it to be recreated. Having said that, Skye Hallam-Hankin smoulders nicely, but the rest fail to ignite.

Even a lack of style and substance are nearly covered by a fast pace, short scenes and a proliferation of guns over a film score soundtrack, but the concept of a tap dance finale is murder. "You go too far" as Bacall's character says in the movie.

Fast Film is a bit like fast food - ultimately unsatisfying and full of unnecessary additives.

Show times: 2-3, 5-10 August 2013, 8.35pm.

Ticket prices: £9 (£24 family).