In a city filled with gimmicks, it takes a special one to impress hardened critics who have seen everything before.
German-Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpur effortlessly does the trick in Nassim. The starting point is that the Bush’s Artistic Director Madani Younis explains that each performance is to be delivered by a different actor who has neither seen the script nor rehearsed.
For the press performance, that actor was Chris Thorpe, who clearly enjoyed his 75 minutes in the limelight.
His role was to read words projected on a large screen, first by the unseen playwright in a studio a couple of floors above the theatre.
Halfway through, the pair meet and the still silent Nassim is persuaded to come on stage, interacting with Thorpe and his audience.
In and around a series of stories, we learn that his works have never been performed in Farsi, the writer’s native language. However, they have appeared around the world, delivered in a number of languages.
Slowly, viewers (and Chris) learn enough Farsi to read a nursery story and broadcast it to Nassim’s mumun in Iran, bringing the show to a touching ending.
Describing Edinburgh productions as charming can seem like barbed praise where shock is so often the order of the day. In this case, it is both accurate and meant as an undiluted compliment.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher