On the surface, David Paul Jones becomes Maestro Gilbert K Prendergast, monomaniacally composing his ‘Concerto Perfectuoso’ and stressing the need for musical perfection to potential students for his conservatoire (i.e. us the audience). However, it soon becomes clear all is not sweetness and light in these halls of academe, and we soon confront evidence that Prendergast may well have abused and possibly murdered his previous students.
As with all Grid Iron productions, detail is one thing that gets paid attention to, and in this case, something the audience have to take heed of as well. ‘What Remains’ isn’t purely a theatre piece; it involves a considerable amount of music (naturally) but it’s also an installation piece, where seeming ephemera, constructions, and maquettes play a significant part in illuminating what goes on.
It’s all undeniably intriguing, but if you like your narrative plain and your storyline straight, this may not be the place to be. ‘What Remains’ draws on the genre of the horror film, which is either to your taste or not, mixing this with some implications that suggest the bleaker and more shocking headlines of the recent past rather than late night TV or film schlock.
Which can be an awkward place to find oneself as an audience member, still less as a reviewer. It’s a sad reality of the busy traffic that is Edinburgh in Fringe-time that not every production gets the reviewer it deserves (and, of course, the reverse is equally the case). So, if for reasons that need not detain us here, certain aspects of ‘What Remains’ outweighed the considerable positive ones for this reviewer, this is obviously an individual objection.
What does remain, however, is the very considerable musicianship of David Paul Jones and his ability to hold an audience almost literally spellbound. As ever, Grid Iron’s production values remain impeccably high, and if some audience appeared mystified by what they saw, they remained attentive to the end.
Dates: August 4-28 (not Mondays), 18.20, 20.00, 21.30
Tickets: £17.00, £19.00