City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Seer Review

By Garry Platt - Posted on 05 August 2013

Show details
Penn Dixie Productions
Running time: 
Anisa George (Director / Writer / Producer), Cecilia Solberg Knudsrod (Design)
Klas Lagerlund, Alex Suha, Gaidig Mercier, Julia Correa, Natalie Chami, Hugh Gran -Peterkin

One of the wonderful aspects of the Fringe is that you can follow groups, writers and actors whose work you've enjoyed often one year after the next. This time I was excited to see the work of three actors who I had previously seen in various productions all of them innovative and inspiring.

'The Seer' produced by the Penn Dixie company is appearing in the Underbelly on Cowgate, it's a glorious, potent and dangerous mix of melodrama, comedy, tragedy and sometimes shocking violence. The meteoric, grotesquely talented and wonderful, terrible life of Arthur Rimbaud, the anti Christ of art is laid before us in this play. Rimbaud was a man who burnt the candle at both ends and the middle simultaneously.

The rich, dark world of this genius is created before us, the tapestry of his life unpicked so as to reveal the torment, obsession and twisting nature of his loves and hates. The performances are sincere, talented and totally committed. The story though challenging is easy to follow, the clarity with which Rimbaud's despair is portrayed occasionally becomes starkly uncomfortable.

So fierce is the terror of the situation the audience will spontaneously start laughing to relieve the tension. The divide between audience and stage is frequently broken and sometimes this creates a tension but here it forms an increased intimacy, as though we are being let in on a secret.

The set is cleverly designed, tables become vaginas, walls become cityscapes and the whole of the stage eventually becomes a metaphor for the carnage of this portrayed life. On this set, the characters some absurd, some hideous, some beguiling, some pitiful are beautifully observed by the cast.

Rimbaud's mother is the incarnation of oppression and suppressed violence, it's uncomfortable just looking at her. The narrator is an admirer of fawning obsequiousness who probably gets the most laughs from the audience. Young Rimbaud is a challenging dynamic coiled spring just waiting for release, you can see the energy seeping out of every pore. Paul Verlaine with whom Rimbaud had an affair is an obsessed, and by comparison inadequate poet, his diminutive nature exquisitely presented. And his wife is a pitiful innocent lost in this torrid maelstrom of drugs, violence and antipathy. You cannot even begin to consider her eventual despair.

Rimbaud himself is skilfully portrayed, that meld of madness, intellect, resentment and raw power radiates off the stage and forms the core of the play around which all other characters orbit.

This is a great production which must win awards here on the Fringe and must go on to tour. Thank goodness for 'The Seer' this is what makes the Edinburgh Fringe magical.

Runs til 25th August (not 13th), 10.30pm