City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Phools, Bedlam Theatre, Review


By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 04 August 2017

Phools image
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Show details
Venue: 
Bedlam Theatre
Company: 
Babolin Theatre
Running time: 
60mins
Production: 
Richard Fredman (writer), Sam Plumb (director), Sam Worboys (producer), Jon Whitten (composer).
Performers: 
Murray Reid (Phools), Elise Harbud (Lady Esther Winch-Esther), Hannah Jones (Philadelphia), Saul Bailey (Parson Handsup), Laila El Edwy (Ali Kebaba), Tom Howard (Smethwick), Shiona Luke (Phlodge), Shannon O’Shea (Salami), Isabelle Perry (Swazzle), Peter Silver (Phabreeze), Joanna Swindells (Japonica), Amy Thorpe (Swizzle).

Prepare to hear a story told by a vagabond New English skiffle band of pot, spoon, pan and bucket players.

It’s a difficult time for good old England during this Age of Invention in the 1600’s with competing ideas from Puritans, the Dutch, the School of Natural Phoolosophy, fops and dandies. Our protagonist Phools Mortalsby has troubles of his own, several personal demons that he hopes to exorcise in missives to his mother. But at the heart of the tale is a fairly Shakespearean adventure of a missing father, confused identity and a quest for a true love.

Any quest is fraught with danger as Phools soon finds out as he loses, horse, money and underwear. Life is further complicated by the attentions of a libidinous clergyman on his mother and sister. It seems he will have to go it alone in seeking answers which appear to rest with the scholars of Phoolology. There are however heinous attempts to discredit even the greatest names of English science.

It’s a wacky devised period drama, with gavottes, Ottomans and Cartesian Dualism. For all its reference to invention however it follows a fairly basic form. Where previous productions have harnessed not only gleeful foolishness but a sense of epic saga here any subtlety is drowned out. There is lots of running around, lines delivered at volume and slapstick verging on the sadomasochistic. The music reaches some quirky heights but can also be cacophonous when everything out of the kitchen sink is thrown at it.

For those who haven’t experienced Babolin’s take on things it might be an enjoyable enough bit of knockabout, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this is their best work. Even Phoolishness appears to have been dumbed down.

Show Times: 4 to 12 August 2017 at 12.30pm

Tickets: £10 (£8)

Suitability: PG+