Splitfoot

John McEneny & Vasile Flutur

Piper Theatre Productions (New York)

C nova

From 05 August 2015 to 22 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Graeme Strachan

The Fox Sisters may not be a name which immediately springs to the mind of every Fringe patron, but the tale of the trio of supposed spirit mediums who gave rise to the spiritualist movement in America are a fascinating subject for any play.

Splitfoot, so named after its dark and mischeivous embodiment of the Devil, delves into that peculiarly American gothic horror that resides betwixt the end of the Civil War and the throngs of the Great Depression. It recounts the tale by means of a theatre company performing a sinisterly awkward play, with a darkness at the heart of the performance.

Piper Theatre makes good use of the play within a play structure; as a stark change in lighting and the aspect of the players shows the flit between the story of the Fox sisters and Mr Splitfoot and the rapidly unraveling theatre company ostensibly performing the piece in the late 19th century.

Between the eldritch hoots, contorted bodies and the creaking of football rattles, it's an unnerrving experience; made only more sinister by the flat dank heat of the claustrophobic and seemingly inescapable subterranean venue it's performed inside.

It's an electric experience, a thing of hot bodies, fearful mood swings and wild eyes in the dark. The plot is a tad labrynthine and doesn't quite set up all of the narrative leaps as well as it could, but a little mystery never hurt a body's soul now did it?