City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Titanic Orchestra, Pleasance Courtyard, Review


By Irene Brown - Posted on 14 August 2015

John Hannah in The Titanic Orchestra.jpg
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Show details
Company: 
Sarah Stribley Productions in association with Anna Haigh Productions and the Pleasance
Running time: 
70mins
Production: 
Hristo Boytchev (writer), Steve King (adapter) Russell Bolam (director)
Performers: 
John Hannah (Harry), Jonathan Rhode (Meto), Stuart Crowther (Louko), Heidi Niemi(Lyubka),Ivan Barnev(Doko)

The musicians of the Titanic may have played as long as they could while the ship went down but it is a myth that they continued to play beneath the sea with notes bubbling through waves. This play by renowned Bulgarian playwright Hristo Boytchev deals in myths and illusions created by a man who may or may not be Harry Houdini.

A ramshackle crew of four rehearse a scam involving a train and some suitcases that never comes off as the trains never stop and only deafeningly shoot through. They believe they are manning a railway station but in reality do nothing but drink and desperately find ways of getting out to the wide world where they believe all will be well.

The arrival out of a box of lum hatted and fancy show wearing Harry, played by John Hannah who was the original Edinburgh detective in the TV production of Rebus. Harry has more than one trick up his sleeve and his asking if he was in Stockholm unsettles this drink sodden band. But over this rather strange piece of theatre the philosophical message that unfolds is that life is the same everywhere and escape is an illusion. Harry teaches them that the key is within them.

There is an unsatisfactory shambolic feeling of this play striving to be like Beckett but not quite getting there throughout this elaborate metaphor for the human condition. The performances are all fine though none outstanding and an early corpsing was carried off with easy laughter on stage. There are some funny moments and some sleight of hand from the indestructible Harry like pulling actual train tickets from the air for a driverless train. (The DLR it is not!) But the ultimate disappearing act poses the stark fact of how a person can actually disappear when they stop being noticed by others.

5 – 31 August (not 17 and 24 August), 5.25pm