FRINGE REVIEW – David Leddy’s Sub Rosa


5-30 Aug (not 10, 17 24), times vary @ Hill Street Theatre

Prior to entering the Masonic lodge where Sub Rosa is set, the audience is given a very specific instruction to remain absolutely silent once inside the building. This warning turns out to be unnecessary as soon everyone is held utterly rapt by the Gothic tale unfolding before them.

The audience are led through 5 rooms (most of which have never before been opened to the public) to meet a motley crew of characters from the Winter Palace and hear from each of them the story of Flora macIver’s rise to power in  the music hall and the ensuing “red velvet revolution”. Be warned though, their stories are not pretty ones and the faint of heart may struggle as, like the Ancient Mariner, the audience are held rapt by the tales and unable to turn away.

David Leddy is known for his edgy site-specific theatre and indeed this must be one of the highest-quality pieces of drama to be found in Edinburgh this month. The acting is superb throughout, with each actor absolutely inhabiting their character and bringing their chapter of the story flawlessly, horribly to life. The venue is, of course, perfect – creaky old rooms bedecked with Masonic symbols and artifacts which are skillfully interwoven into the story. Atmosphere is further created through superb use of lighting and sound effects – as the audience wanders through the building, they pass in and out of light and shadow and there is a constant aural backdrop, whether of creaking boards, rustling curtains, or dripping water, which all contribute to the mood.

The hard-working staff are putting on no less than seven performance of Sub Rosa every night but are already selling out, so get your tickets now as you miss it at your peril.

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