Theatre Uncut

Dennis Kelly, Clara Brennan, Neil LaBute, Stef Smith, Vivienne Franzmann and Kieran Hurley

Theatre Uncut

Roundabout @ Summerhall

From 24 August 2015 to 30 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

Theatre Uncut has moved to the Summerhall Roundabout, giving it more space and seats to brew up controversial small-scale theatrical presentations taking on political issues.

This 80-minute programme is a kind of greatest hits show, featuring six plays that have proved popular in earlier years with direction shared between Emma Callander and Hannah Price.

Things That Make No Sense by Dennis Kelly

The opener is a chilling but very funny satire by Dennis Kelly. It consists of a police interrogation with Paul Cunningham playing the putative murderer.

The play swiftly takes a surreal turn when his two interlocutors reverse his statements in an effort to prove guilt. Thus, despite the fact that he was in Sweden when the murder took place, the man is stated to have been in London at the location of the event.

The comedy becomes even richer when the pair start to list some of their other conquests of which a random example is the 4-year-old who has admitted being head of a Colombian drugs cartel.

This is all very funny but does make one wonder how often such procedures are used in real life, even if not necessarily in our kingdom.

Hi Vis by Clara Brennan

Lesley Hart plays the mother of a teenaged girl with severe mental problems.

After these become too much for the family, she is put into an under-funded institution.

This proves too much for the girl, who has particularly negative emotional reactions every time that her parents visit.

Their solution is to dress as clowns, making some symbolic comments about the system that makes such actions necessary.

In the Beginning by Neil LaBute

American playwright Neil LaBute presents a simple, cynical tale of a middle-class student activist played by Tessa Parr and her long-suffering father (Cunningham again).

She is that impeccable mix of spoilt rich kid relying on daddy’s largesse and dangerous revolutionary wannabe. He is a sucker for her latest sob story.

Smoke (and mirrors) by Stef Smith

The three female actors, a trio completed by Bunmi Mojekwu, play contrasting Turkish women interviewed in the aftermath of the Gezi Park protests.

In answers to questions from a playwright, a veiled Muslim, Roma and less obviously affiliated woman together build up a good picture of attitudes in their troubled country.

The Most Horrific by Vivienne Franzmann

The actors are divided into two pairs, delivering dialogues that seem to have little connection.

One pair discusses the conviction of a famous entertainer for what one would imagine is a sex crime.

The others try to perfect a comedy set delivered by Miss Parr. Her partner in crime, Miss Hart, divides the topics into good and bad.

This obviously allows audience members to review a large number of contemporary issues in the context of their suitability for comedy treatment.

Close by Kieran Hurley

Cunningham ends the series with a solo written before the Scottish Independence Referendum last September.

In it, he plays a committed voter who explains the consequences and reactions to the news of who won and lost.

Cleverly, it is a dual purpose monologue that would work perfectly well whatever the outcome and still fits the bill after the event.