Written by Adam Phillips (book) and Simon Bent (text)
Directed by Graham Eatough
Everyman Theatre, 21st-25th February 2006
I perversely enjoyed this strange and bewildering production by Scottish
theatre company Suspect Culture.
The Escapologist does not uplift the spirits or make you glad to be alive.
The characters generally pontifcate about the sorrowful state of their
lives, musing on how life has given them a bad deal.
The symbolic aspects relating to the exploits of Harry Houdini are fairly
strong. The cast are bound by emotional ties in relationships, bound to
their plight, and constrained or unable to break free from what is troubling
The play - set in what appeared to be a loft - has six characters, but
it is difficult to fathom out who is a companion to one of the other characters
on stage. They include a psychiatrist (Kevin McMonagle), a neurotic female
doctor played by Selina Boyack (whose vocal delivery was less than captivating),
and a roofer called 'Boss' by his assistant (Tommy Mullins). The boss
in question (Paul Blair) has a major drink problem due to the collapse
of his marriage - not exactly profound stuff. There is also an intriguing
schoolgirl character (Mary-Anne Lynch Small) who mysteriously kept shielding
her eyes with her hands, and repeatedly voicing the need to look and see.
The programme adds to the confusion that most people in the audience felt
conerning the theme(s) of the play by not having character names alongside
the names of the actors.
There is a novel touch during the interval when film of Houdini performing
his feats of escape is screened to those of the audience who remain seated
throughout the fifteen minute period.
The video projections shown during the play are effective, as well as
the music of a piano player (David Paul Jones), performing various interpretations
of the Acker Bilk instrumental 'Stranger on a Shore'. The play is strange