Rebounding Hail

Avital Lvova & George Vere

Disparat Theater

Underbelly, Cowgate

From 06 August 2015 to 30 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

Set upon a stage filled with piles of books of varying sizes, a young girl sits and plucks idly through them.

As she reads, a troupe of actors dart onstage to act out vignettes from each different famous text, birthed and vanished at the open and close of the book. While she does this, a voice echoes from above, and chats with her about the stories, playfully teasing and joking with her.

But there's a mystery: who is the voice? Why is he so secretive, and what is the significance of the book he desperately doesn't want her to read?

Rebounding Hail manages to weave a captivating story by gradually adding in choice moments from famous literary novels; as Burroughs's Tarzan swoops in and Billy Budd stomps to a sea shanty, the girl argues with the omnipresent voice, leading into further depths of literary adventure.

There is a strange duality to the piece, however, as the choices of novel range from the familiar to the more worthy and unusual, but never quite seem to flow from one to another as smoothly as they ought.

As a result, the gradual evolution of the girl's bravery and curiosity, while plausible and fascinating, feels a tad forced, as the weight of all the unexplained factors of this devised piece mount up, leaving an ending which provides closure but little in the way of satisfaction.

While there are some narrative issues, the performance of the piece is very much a high standard, as the rapid costume changes and the varying roles most of the cast portray never fail to entertain, and the concept is certainly one strong enough to keep the audience rapt throughout.

Well worth the time of anyone who fancies a piece of new theatre with a bit of a literary bent.