Up Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Return To Work
Laurie Brown
Running time

This is a festival that has for too many years endured the double sledgehammer blow of known comedy giants and established theatre
heavyweights who have virtually established their own festival within the
larger event.

The locals here often mockingly refer to the Edinburgh Festival
just as ‘The Comedy Festival’ for it seems that there is nothing else available
to see and we’ve become a bit weary of the guaranteed sell-outs at the Assembly
Rooms and other major venues, especially when the material on offer was on TV
last week.

It’s refreshing then to come across the beautiful simplicity
and moving nature of Up the debut fringe appearance of gifted writer James Ley
and appropriately sparingly directed by Edinburgh’s very own Rosalind Sydney.

This is an engaging and striking example of what the Fringe is supposed to be
all about. This is getting back to discovering bright new talents performing brand new material in a dead
end side street, under a bridge in a pokey and dusty wee room, a room that you never
knew existed although you walked past it every day. That’s the real fringe. I
don’t often take a risk and go to plays knowing little about them, but I do like
to be surprised and have my expectations exceeded and Up did this in spades.

I can't give away the meaning of the title here, but Up
concerns Robert, an inmate in a mental asylum with suicidal tendencies (no, no,
no, don’t stop reading, I know it’s a tough sell so bear with me here). Roberts’s
memories and life story, his past mistakes, his conflicting thoughts and
emotions come tumbling out of his mouth with a degree of mania, anger, sadness
and pain. But this is no ‘ordinary nutter’ for Robert is as alive, as
intelligent, as observant and as aware of reality as any of us.

It sounds depressing, but throughout the play Robert’s eyes
twinkle with mischief and he comments both on the world around him and his own
stream of consciousness with a great deal of wit and humour. But there are
those all important words "suicidal tendencies" lurking in the back of the audiences mind resurface and as the gravity of Robert's intentions surface, the story heads towards the one and only inevitable conclusion...or so I
thought. All I’ll say is it wasn’t quite what I expected and proves that Ley writes well
observed material with original twists.

That’s about as much as I can tell you without giving away
too much. Credit must also be given to the perfectly judged and expertly
nuanced performance by Laurie Brown, a compelling young actor whose lack of years belies the convincing sense of world weary knowledge he portrays in
Roberts character.

Up is a provocative, tense, funny and moving piece of
original theatre and I’ll be keeping an eye on what the cast and company get up to

Times: til 31 August (not 24), 7.15pm