The Burial of The Rats

Fourth Monkey

theSpace on Niddry St

From 05 August 2017 to 11 August 2017

Rating: ***

Review by Graeme Strachan

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What to do when faced with a full year away from the one we love?

Fourth Monkey has chosen to explore such an idea in a stretching adaptation of the Bram Stoker short story, employing what is fast becoming its signature style of a crowded stage of ever-changing cast moving around the space, telling a story through movement and expression as much through exposition.

We are treated to song, music and dance in the story of Oliver, a London artist seeking betrothal to Alice and tasked with cutting all contact for a single year to prove his intentions and character.

We follow the lovelorn artist and a pair of his friends to Italy and then to France as he attempts to spend the 12 months in a self-imposed artistic exile, seeking the means and the muse to paint his beloved Alice before her memory fades, encountering angry Romans, sozzled bohemians and a cynical art writer before finding himself lost in the impoverished 'dust city' at the edge of Paris.

Fans of the story might be surprised by this depiction, as the original story only covers the final 20 minutes of this hour and a half of stage traffic. In expanding the story and weaving in subsidiary characters, Fourth Monkey has taken a short and gruesome tale of murderous horror and turned it into a biting condemnation of classism, colonisation and the discarding of the poor by the masses.

It's a shame then that the whole never quite meets the sum of its parts, as the performances, the dancing and the copious swapping and playing of instruments between various members of the company is wholly impressive, as is the choice to play lengthy tracts of the piece completely in untranslated French and Italian.

The trouble being this all feels somewhat like the window-dressing it is when the final denoument is so brief and, although merited, feels flimsy.