City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Notes from Bermondsey Street Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 23 August 2013

Notes From Bermondsey Street - publicity image.
Show details
C Venues - C
Bear Pit Theatre
Running time: 
Devised, designed and produced by the cast. Masks designed and created by TongueTied Theatre.
Claudia Aitken, Rebecca Baxter, Beatrice Born, Tristan Carman, Rebecca David, Leo Dutton, Ranya El-Refaey, Francesca Forristal, Tom Glenister, Alex Grover, Harry Hancock, Rebecca Hindmarsh, Charlie Hodgkiss, Alice Hoskyns, Nadia Hussain, Daniel Newton, Oscar North, Jeremy Piper, Jacob Rowe, Charlotte Schofield, Alice Stobart, Charles Stooke, Peter Stormont, James Wilson.

"Hello, I've got the perfect table for you..." intones the head waiter. Not words frequently heard in Edinburgh during Festival season. Surely there's a catch?

Well, looking around at the diners it seems that they are sustained by more than what's on the menu. They seem to also feed off the memories and mad dreams committed to paper and left behind as some sort of Faustian exchange.

The customers look like the product of too much red wine and blue cheese before bedtime - grotesque, masked figures with curves in all the wrong places.

Into this less than charming Gothic eatery comes one innocent girl. Of course there's a perfect table which, like the others, has a drawer and in that drawer a note.

A flurry of activity sees the irregular regulars vying to act out the note, to give life to the simple phrase. They all have their own favourite notes which they want to sample as a little starter, tales as an amuse-bouche. They crowd the waiter, fluttering notes in a back-lit Hieronymus Bosch tableaux that looks like some fantastical punishment of sinners.

They will get a chance as the waiter chooses a tasty memory and a few of the company to serve it up - "You, you and you: Play".

The bill of fare offered by the notes includes "Alone in Norway for Two Years" or "Dining Alone Forever". The short tales have a dark side, often satirical, antibourgeois and have an absurdist quality, mirrored by the players as they seem caught and forced to carry out repetitive actions and dialogues on the edge of nonsense.

The masked style also has something in common with commedia dell'arte and shares both its themes of love, lust, jealousy and old age and its improvised feel.

Some of the performances are not horrible and the large cast gives those scenes between scenes a strong visual appeal. The ingredients are a bit mixed, some seeming inventive and others (like the Milf dubbed "Stella Artois") less based on a theatrical style and more like the imaginations of grubby schoolboys.

The concept is reasonable but the structure, with its relentless, repetitious Choose / Play format might leave you identifying with the poor soul who left a note which reads "For The Love of God, Let it Stop".

Show times

19 to 26 August 2013, 7.30pm.

Ticket prices

£8.50 (£6.50) to £10.50 (£8.50).