Raising Kane

David Shopland
Fake Escape Theatre
Assembly George Square Studios

Raising Kane

Orson Welles, self-proclaimed genius, a larger-than-life figure and a star who bloomed so early he never quite managed to make sense of himself. What was his story, and what does it mean to be born into greatness?

David Shopland picks up the heavy mantle of Kane, bedecked in grey greasepaint and monochromatic clothes, to cast the spell of an idea sealed forever in celluloid. It’s a great performance, as he booms out a credible impression of Welles’s roaring brogue, while grinning and strutting through his life story. Not simply Welles, though; it’s a performance which leans heavily into the voices and physicality of other characters and personalities of those who helped him along the way, taking stock of the real question of who makes us what we become, and what it really means.

It’s a smartly written piece, taking enough real life knowledge of Welles history, RKO and the background to Citizen Kane to weave a fascinating historical account, all set and framed through the same evocative lens of curiosity the film shows. It’s also a loving homage to acting, and to the crafts of theatre and cinema.

It’s an honest-to-goodness great performance. It perhaps relies on a little too much pre-knowledge to fully get all the references and gags, but as is observed early into the play, “you know what my name is, otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting here”. It still has a few rough edges and could do with laying a little more groundwork for some of the delightful but slightly unexpected aspects of the dénouement. Yet, it’s fair to say, Raising Kane is a triumph.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan

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