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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

The Seer

Penn Dixie Productions

Genre: Physical Theatre

Venue: Underbelly Cowgate


Low Down

"Savagely funny. An absurd physical theatre piece devised by an all-star international ensemble about the infamous life and artistic suicide of Arthur Rimbaud: rock poet, anarchist, hedonist, gun-smuggler, and literary prophet. Trip into this dark heaven and dysfunctional clown melodrama. Babies bounce, absinthe flows, all is abracadabrasque."


We are peering through the darkness at the figure of a man trying to light a match. He is angry and full of tension, penetrating the air with vituperative remarks. This is frustrated French poet Arthur Rimbaud, a volatile, peripatetic man whose best work was achieved by the age of 20. Both Rimbaud’s life and poetry has inspired a great number of poets and artists, including the French symbolists and more recently such musicians as Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and Patti Smith.

Rimbaud sends his poems out to various poets and hears nothing back, His ‘rough around the edges’ employee, Charles Bretagne played with vulnerability and excellent comedic timing, by Alex Suha  suggests he sends them to Symbolist Paul Verlaine. Verlaine responds and invites him to Paris.

The resulting  affair between the two writers becomes tempestuous and explosive. On stage, this was portrayed  with lust and vigour –by Klas Lagerlund (Rimbaud)  and Hugh Grant-Pertkin ( Verlaine). Their admiration and passion for one another was most captivating. During the kissing scene, I can confirm glasses were steaming.

Keeping to the spirit of this true story, large sections of the dialogue are in French. Occasionally I felt isolated by the language barrier, although the musicality of the speech was moving and thought provoking.

The use of the set and the props was inventive beyond belief; who knew a table top and a pink sheet would make such convincing anatomical representation?

Various techniques were used to break the fourth wall: for instance the use of lighting changes brought a mischievous element to the play. The audience participation during the kissing scene was a wildly exciting and  dangerous move reminding  us that the theatrical  boundary is but a temporary illusion.

It took the first 10 minutes for the cast to warm up but once it got going Penn Dixie’s production of The Seer was dark, fizzing and sexy. The multi skilled cast of The Seer have total complicite and are masters at their craft.

Be warned: this is not a play for the faint-hearted!