Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Robert Hook, Edmund Halley, Sir Christopher Wren and Isaac Newton in a debate may sound like a fantasy QI dinner party but here we have all 4 engaged in an argument. It covers a dispute between Hook and Newton as hook claims Newton has stolen all his best work. Who is Hook you may ask and if you have never heard of Hook before this might give you the answer as to who won the debate. It was also a wager between Hook and Halley. The debate was solved by Newton, who was recruited by Halley behind Hook’s back leaving Newton further hated by Hook whilst it is all observed by Wren. It may not have ended in tears per se but crying shame was the end result when one of the four is left to apologise and rue his lies.
This was a crisp hour of debate of a highly specialised topic that kept me interested throughout. The writing is clear and well managed, the direction has some flaws but overall there is a confidence from this young cast that is well worth the entrance money. It reminded me a little of Copenhagen without the density making it a lighter load to digest, though just as weighty a subject matter.
The writing had an authentic feel that did take us back to the 17th century but was sufficiently aware of modernity to make the explanations clear but not laboured. The drama was allowed to deal with the personalities and the wager rather than the intricacies of the science.
What I also found fascinating was the positively diverse casting. I thought it rather inspired. Rather than being a distraction I liked the gesture and the imagery of progress was never far away from us visually.
At times though, the direction left us with characters on the ground who were scribbling their equations and working it all out. This made movement in the small space appear a little awkward. The cast were able to navigate this through experience but at times I wanted to see much more interaction and this was often hindered in the thrust stage and small venue by someone scribbling in chalk on the floor.
Theatre arts were tolerably well used and added to the overall though the spotlight used for Halley’s monologues was a tad hackneyed.
Overall a young company with a good script, decent acting and a story worth the telling. Made for a good hour’s company in the afternoon.