Edinburgh Fringe 2010
The programme, somewhat distractingly, spends a good deal of time telling us about past productions and the film version, apparently either concerned that we haven’t heard of the play, or hopeful that some former stardust will rub off on this. Despite being cute, petite and brunette, there is wisely no attempt to emulate Audrey Hepburn in Charlotte Mulliner. She holds the production together, being a heroine that we can sympathise with and fear for, whilst she retains her independence in a difficult and eventually terrifying situation. It’s a well judged performance, never flirting with melodrama or going for cheap sympathy. Mulliner is ably supported by Agnes Meath Baker who manages the difficult task of playing a sometimes petulant child without descending into caricature.
The boys fare less well, being rather too softly spoken, and those that are the villains of the piece displaying very little menace. Each pause in the action, particularly in the dialogue, (remembering that the lead character is blind) should be dripping with quite painful anticipation. Usually, this is slightly squandered. However, there is one sequence is which the softly-softly approach is entirely appropriate, when Rhys Bevan’s gently modulated phrasing subtly suggests real threat. Most of the time, however, there seem to be missed opportunities to ratchet up the tension. This appears, more than anything to be the typical Fringe casualty: faced with little more than a hour to stuff an entire plot in, the script is truncated (assuming, startlingly, that the playwright hadn’t already done a few re-writes themselves), and everything else is delivered slightly too quickly in order to keep to the running time. We feel sure that, outside of the Fringe, and given room to breathe, that we’d be seeing a much stronger production here.