Idiots

Caligula's Alibi

Pleasance Courtyard

From 05 August 2015 to 31 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Given the wealth of literary adaptations which make traffic of Edinburgh's Fringe Festival, there's always a place for theatre which roots itself in Golden Age Russian literature. There's even more of a place for a company who take Dostoyevsky firmly by the lapels and toss him into a flurry of satirical daftness.

Caligula's Alibi's production, Idiots, is a sharply observed musing on the life of Fyodor Dostoevsky as viewed from purgatory, where he spends his eternity claiming benefits for his epilepsy and living in the flat beneath Mr Blobby. His claim comes into question when a buraeucratic assessor comes to examine and question him, leading him to ponder his life and his writing.

Interspersed with this wonderfully absurd scenario are a series of poignant scenes from The Idiot, which help to underscore the action and reflect upon the autobiographical nature of the book.

It's a wonderful piece of fourth wall shattering epic theatre peppered with pertinent modern day observations; and the sort of script you'd get if Bertolt Brecht and Charlie Brooker took LSD together after a hard night's drinking at a library.

The cast and accompanying musician keep the tone smartly apt, from the cheeky winking opening, through the surprising moments of shock and barbarism to the inevitable more upbeat finale.

A show well worth catching, even if, like most of the audience in the showing I saw, you've never read a word of Dostoevsky.