City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Humble Heart of Komrade Krumm, Bedlam Theatre, Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 06 August 2016

The Humble Heart of Komrade Krumm - courtesy of Babolin
Show details
Bedlam Theatre
Babolin Theatre and Worboys Productions.
Running time: 
Tom Penn (Director), Richard Fredman (writer), Sam Worboys (producer), John Whitten (composer), Katya Mann and Tilly Henderson (assistant producers).
Roman Armstrong, Robyn Ball, Hariet Beynon, Alice Gilby, Grace Johnstone, Tamzin Kerslake, Holly Masters, Sophie McMahon, Samuel Ross, Becca Storey, George Trump, Rebecca Wright.

Enter, join the characters around the large refectory table and prepare to be changed, as together we learn about a man named Krumm.

Our companions, clad in uniform green cagoules and beanie hats are singing a strange waulking song as they weave together threads of their everyday life. Nordic sounding words are translated – “How much is that fermented seal meat?”; “Watch out for avalanches”. Yet this icy waste is England. A future England, where war and climate change have drifted the continent north and left a sparse population to pick over the whitened bones of the past.

Central to this is the last man born, the legendary Komrade Krumm, and we embark on a long tale of supreme heroic achievement in search of some truth and the cave of all knowledge and power. This epic journey sees Krumm’s nephew head both north and into the past to see what the life story of his illustrious relation might mean. It seems that the fabled leader has cheated all sorts of unlikely demises; from parachute-less skydiving to black holes, which are portrayed in flickering filmic and madcap scenes. What is less certain is whether he can survive the frosty clutches of the Ice Widows and what it actually takes to be a leader.

The portrayed New England has a communist ethos with all the attendant propaganda (even the birds are more bird-like), but with a traditional jolly-hockey-sticks, stiff upper lip and derring-do slant. This allows the cast to indulge in the company’s trademark thigh-slapping, ridiculous accents and display of large moustaches.

Where previous productions have been all-signing and all-dancing, this is a more intimate affair, with the audience invited on stage to be central to the action around the table. The cast morph and meld between characters and provide a fine chorus, with songs ranging from bluesy to canticles and, as always, amongst the madness there are potent pared-back moments.

The use of the created Ven Schling (New English) is a neat idea in giving the piece the feel of an outlandish chronicle, but it somewhat outstays its welcome when the drama ramps up and the original and the translated lines start tripping over each other. The tale is also a little too slight to have truly epic proportions and to bring it full circle.

It may lack some of the instant appeal of a number of the previous productions, but it’s a finely crafted show at its crystalline heart.

Show Times: 3 – 13 August 2016 at 1.30pm.

Ticket Prices £8 (£6) to £10 (£8).

Suitability: PG