Life According to Saki

Katherine Rundell, inspired by the stories of H H Munro

Atticist

C

From 03 August 2016 to 29 August 2016

Rating: *****

Review by Philip Fisher

There has been a great deal of pomp and circumstance to mark the passing of a famous writer 400 years ago.

This show attempts to pay tribute to another fine writer who passed during the Battle of the Somme, exactly a century ago, Hector Hugh Munro, who achieved fame using the pen name of Saki.

This witty novelist and short story writer had something of the tone of P G Wodehouse mixed with the crueller wit of Oscar Wilde.

Katherine Rundell has combined a modicum of biography with dramatisations of a selection of the stories, proving that Saki really was special.

Director Jessica Lazar frames the story from the trenches where David Paisley’s Saki narrates his own story with the assistance of five colleagues who drift in an out of numerous roles, occasionally assisted by some low budget but effective Bunraku puppets.

Beyond that, they offer their talents as actors, making much of physical theatre skills as well as characterisation.

The stories that they animate are generally humorous but with a sharp edge, often directed at harsh aunts or dolts.

Clovis is chronicled dealing out an Unrest Cure to one of the latter, while pigs, hens, hyenas and ferrets have their moment in the limelight. There is even a controversial tattoo.

Atticist presents a show several levels above the average Edinburgh fare and, whether as a reminder of the pleasures of Saki or an introduction, this is an 80-minute show to savour.