REVIEW – Ian Harvey Stone, The Devil Without

*****

By Jen Bolsover

It is easy to believe that Edinburgh in August is a place where worlds (possibly dimensions) overlap. It is equally easy to believe that in a venue like C Nova, anything could happen. This is fortunate for Ian Harvey Stone, whose solo show The Devil Without invites the audience to spend an hour in the company of Faust.

Prior knowledge of the Faust story is helpful but not essential. Stone touches on the most important point early on – the fact that he signed a contract with the Devil and has been attempting to outrun the consequences for five hundred years since. What awaits the audience is a battle to keep the Devil out.

Stone’s performance is confident, assured and commanding. He has the audience in the palm of his hand and inhabits his character thoroughly. His skills as a conjurer and mentalist are remarkable, and anyone who is not susceptible to a good spooky story will find much to entertain them in trying to work out how his tricks are done.

It would, perhaps, be good to see Stone lose a little of that certainty as the play progresses and the Devil makes his presence felt. The script has established that the stakes are high, and if Faust himself appeared to feel endangered, those stakes would feel even higher.

The technical effects are excellent and unnerving, making extensive use of binaural beats and infrasound to create a soundscape that engenders fear and anxiousness even when we are not aware of hearing anything.

The show relies heavily on audience interaction, and as with any performance dependent on trickery and illusion, much depends on the audience entering into the spirit of the thing. For those prepared to be scared, The Devil Without offers a chilling late night treat.

The Devil Without runs at C Nova until 25 August (not 12) at 22:35. Running time is 1 hour.

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