12.15 until 30th August (not 17th) @ Udderbelly
By Emily P
Over the last 8 years, plays tackling the two wars in the Middle East and their peripheral issues have become familiar features on the Edinburgh Fringe. Lidless is a finely crafted piece which goes further, and with more subtlety than most. Alice, an interrogation officer with the US army serving in Guantanamo is the initial focus of the plot. The narrative follows her home, and beyond the future closure of the base, to her new life.
But Alice’s past catches up with her and she is forced to come to terms with the woman she once was, the woman who used every tool available to her in order to do her job. Lidless illustrates the intimacy of the act of torture and interrogation. Like domestic violence there is a connection between the abused and abuser which this play explores. When Alice’s teenage daughter Rhiannon, writing a questionnaire for a school project, fatefully forms a connection with the visitor from Alice’s past the conflation of intimacy, violence, knowledge and violation which both interrogator and detainee have experienced bursts out of their past.
If in order to survive you must force yourself to love the pain that kills you – what will be the result?
The set is splendid – a clean white box which we, the audience, line the walls of and are shut inside. The box, becomes interrogation room, hospital, home, shop and the players are surrounded, penned in by us and we are close enough to touch them. The lighting is beautifully directed, contributing to a tight and expressive production. Across the board the acting is superb, making the very most of the excellent script.
It might be unfair to compare this take on the act of interrogation and torture to other plays on the Fringe with the simple agenda of revealing the horror of it. But I must recommend that if you see only one play this year with torture and the current wars at its heart – see this one. It is a Lidless box of engaging, thought-provoking, intelligent human theatre.
(5 stars would have been awarded if I hadn’t had to sit on those torturous folding stools – build benches around the walls and spare your audience the pain in the **** to get the extra one)