City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Zorro Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 07 December 2009

Show Details
Traverse Theatre
Visible Fictions
Johnston McCulley (story), Davey Anderson (writer), Douglas Irvine (director), Robin Peoples (designer), David Trouton (composer), Emily Raemakers (costume design), James Gardner (lighting design), Fiona Fraser (production manager), Gemma Smith (stage manager), Raymond Short (fight director), Scott Bissett, Gwynfor Prys Dowies and Raymond Short (set construction/props)
Sandy Grierson, Richard Conlan, Claire Dargo
Running time: 

A story written early last century about a nobleman in Spanish California with the secret identity of Zorro is on the face of it an odd choice for a festive show in Edinburgh. Diego de la Vega, Zorro’s real identity, is seeking revenge for his murdered father - killed by soliders masquerading as bandits - by pursuing justice for the poor and weak.

His father had slashed the hand of one of his assailants and  the swashbuckling character, who has featured on TV and films since its publication in 1919, but has possibly never been played like this version, in turn slashes the letter Z on his victims.

Aside from the name meaning "fox" in Spanish, animals have a vital part to play in the tale, from Zorro’s trusty black steed, Tornado, the horses that as Diego he tended, to Felicity, the funny parrot of Captain Estefan.

On a simple set where fantastic lighting creates believable changing Californian skies, the three actors, buttoned and booted in the sandy shades of the desert, play all the main parts with extras portrayed by handheld cardboard cut-outs used to great comic effect and through storytelling that really engage the audience.

The main sense I got watching this piece was a realisation of child’s play. With simple effective props and the clever use of the slopey box stage, they acted out the story in a way that seemed as though they’d not only brought Zorro and his fellow characters to life, but had brought the act of children’s re-enacting to life. This was the living room/playroom writ large on stage but when children play, they can only imagine the ‘dan da ran’ music whereas it was made real on stage in fabulous filmic Western style.

This allowed a real engagement with the action as the imagination used in play can be seen in the actors’ performances where a simple act of wearing one glove, for example, helps change the well meaning Governor to the evil Captain Estefan utterly believably.

While no frankincense or myrrh feature in the story, gold plays an important role but most pertinent is the fact of that it is a highly moral tale of good versus evil and indeed good and love overcoming evil and greed.

A timely message as ever, but it is also reassuring that Lois Lane was not the first female to be in love with a man yet not recognising a disguised version of him as a superhero!.  This is comic and highly engaging theatre.

Times: Saturday 5 December to Thursday 24 December times vary.  (Not Mondays or Tuesday 15 December)