Eavesdropping (Walk This Play)

Hannah Lavery and Sarah MacGillivray
ThickSkin
Traverse 3

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Eavesdropping Credit: Shutterstock

Eavesdropping might have been designed as a perfect response to the pandemic, since participants spend the whole of the 70-minute running time on the move outdoors staying well clear of any groups of people.

The version under review has been created to be enjoyed by the many folk who would love to be in Edinburgh for the Festival but have found themselves unable or unwilling to visit the city during these troubled times.

It consists of a guided walk in a loop that starts and finishes at the Traverse Theatre. For those viewing from home, it will either be a pleasant introduction to lesser-known parts of the city or a nostalgic reminder of what they are missing.

Instead of concentrating on tourist sites such as Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street, the Royal Mile and Grassmarket, the tour takes in lesser-known areas to the south and west of the theatre, though there is a brief glimpse of the Castle to please those who need that fix.

Instead, a number of hidden treasures are unearthed, including some that even the locals may never have spotted such as a Shakespearean mosaic above the entrance to a long-retired bank building. Remarkably, the video version was recorded on a glorious day when the sky was blue and the sun shone throughout, a rarity in the Scottish capital even during August.

Drifting at a leisurely pace, listening to a commentary or wearing headphones if you are attending in person, the walk is carefully directed by Jonnie Riordan with plenty of time to allow for safe road crossings and sightseeing. It is constantly punctuated by conversations in which one inadvertently becomes an embarrassed eavesdropper.

For the most part, these are inconsequential but add an extra layer of colour to the walk. However, there are some touching moments, particularly as we pass a funeral director’s premises and learn a story of loss.

Some of the better moments feature comments on jobs, whether exciting or dead end, while love is also frequently in the air, old, new, anticipated and even, at Burke and Hare’s Strip Bar, blue.

The dramaturgy is gentle rather than aggressive or incisive but provides a nice background to a very enjoyable reminder of the city that we must all hope will be back to its brilliant best by next August.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher