City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

CUT, Underbelly Medical Quad, Review


By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 08 August 2016

Hannah Norris as The Woman in CUT, Underbelly
4
Show details
Running time: 
60mins
Production: 
Duncan Graham, (Writer and Director), Elizabeth Gadsby (Designer) Russell Goldsmith, (Sound Design), Sam Hopkins (Lighting Design & Technical Direction)
Performers: 
Hannah Norris (The Woman)

Each year Underbelly selects an outstanding performance at the Adelaide Fringe which leads to a production of the show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. CUT by Duncan Graham, an innovative dramatic thriller, won the Best Theatre award at Adelaide Fringe and the Underbelly Adelaide Award 2015.

The intimate, site-specific, pop-up venue at the Underbelly Medical Quad has space for just 28 people; after gathering outside, we are led as a group to board "the aircraft". The cabin has two rows of seats on the left and a row of seats on the right side of the aisle. Once settled, the entrance is closed securely. “Doors to automatic” as the crew repeat in chorus on British Airways.

Safety instructions are brief and to the point. If anyone feels they must leave, they must shout “Cut!” and they will be escorted out of the aircraft but unable to return. What have we let ourselves in for at this Fringe show?

Our glamorous air hostess wears a tight fitting black dress, her silky hair neatly cut, and has immaculately applied lipstick. She smiles broadly but it looks as false and fake as a plastic mask. Then the lights go out. Pitch blackness descends. Silence.

A flash of torchlight and a blast of discordant music as we observe the Woman standing near the entrance, dimly illuminated. She slowly begins to relate her personal, terrifying tale of victimisation, pursued by a stranger, her ever present stalker lurking in the shadows.

With a sudden burst of light, our air steward is back on duty, going down the aisle, “chicken or beef?” she asks briskly. And then we are submerged back into the dark with the constant electronic hum like the vibration of the engines.

The disjointed script delivered in short, sharp, slices of poetic narrative, is never a straightforward explanation but ad hoc memories, random thoughts, images and flashback moments. Is she talking to the police, a psychiatrist or us, as unwitting bystanders? Is this experience based on the truth or the imagination of a mentally deranged woman?.

She moves at speed and in silence during the total black-outs so that it’s always a shock when the lights flash on again, to find she has magically appeared at the far end, perhaps now wearing Jackie O sunglasses, surgical gloves or holding large, sharp scissors.

Hannah Norris is an extraordinary, watchable actress, totally composed and in character from scenes as the charming air hostess to her alter ego as a cold, threatening, potential assassin with staring focused attention.

Warning – this is not a production for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia. The atmosphere instils a genuine feeling of entrapment, as we are immersed in reliving this woman’s nightmare world, whether it’s fact or fantasy.

You may have read the global bestselling crime novel, “The Girl on the Train” (soon to be a movie), and just published is the new equally unnerving psychological thriller, “The Woman in Cabin 10”. Here we have a similar chilling scenario in Cut, which could be renamed, “The Girl on the Plane” to fit in with this fashionable new literary genre.

Show times:

3-15, 17-29 August@ 19:00; 6-7, 8-9, 12-14,18-21,26-28 @ 1600
Ticket Prices:£14.50/13.50 & £15.50/14.50