Thin Ice

Johnathan Young

Shams / Time Won't Wait / Escalator East to Edinburgh

Pleasance Courtyard

From 02 August 2012 to 27 August 2012

Rating: *****

Review by Graeme Strachan

When a meteorologist and her husband return to a small hut in Greenland, they find the frozen corpse of their one time friend and colleague, sitting, clutching papers. Thus begins the mystery of Thin Ice, a non-linear play which manages to present as many satisfying factors as it aims to, and in doing so creates a utterly consuming and wholly believable tale of love, anger, betrayal and regret.

The wartime story of Nick Underwood's Daniel, a German immigrant scientist, his colleague Laura and brash young buck Richard (Esther McAuley and Calum Witney respectively) is a flawless piece of staged intricacy, each as effortlessly believable in their individual flaws and triumphs.

There is no glossing here, as the 1940 mindset is utterly captured in the political and social ignorances shown between the characters, their small-mindedness in some fields contrasted to the broad-mindedness of their educations. From Daniel's borderline racism towards the native tribespeople he meets to Richards casual sexism, it's clear that we are seeing people drawn more subtly and well than often is the case in Fringe theatre.

It's also impossible not to give credit to the simplicity and genius of the staging, with opposing white screens projecting words and images—the set is a mere few boxes, which, dependent on the actors' positions, double for the Greenland shelter, a Cambridge dance hall or a bedroom—it's clear to the audience at a moment's notice what is going on in front of them.

This masterclass in modern stagecraft ought to be required viewing and I cannot recommend this performance enough.