Review – One Elliot Park

June 17, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

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LaVerne Hawthorne, Danielle Farrow, Lily Carrie, Tommie Hart, Arron Usher in Siege Perilous' production of One Elliot Park. Photo © Gary Daniell Photography

LaVerne Hawthorne, Danielle Farrow, Lily Carrie, Tommie Hart, Arron Usher in Siege Perilous’ production of One Elliot Park. Photo © Gary Daniell Photography

Malmaison
Review by Thom Dibdin

LaVerne Hawthorne, Danielle Farrow, Lily Carrie, Tommie Hart, Arron Usher in Siege Perilous' production of One Elliot Park. Photo © Gary Daniell Photography

Siege Perilous return to their pop-up home at the Malmaison hotel in Leith with an exciting – and sometime exacting – new psychological whodunit.

Lindsay Miller’s dark, twisting script entices her audience into an increasingly grotesque labyrinth of tensions. Her heroine is the fragile, waif-like Chloe, left as the only resident at home in her tenement one unexpectedly becalmed weekend.

Astute direction by Andy Corelli brings a fantastic performance from Lily Carrie as Chloe. She brings a whole range of subtleties to her role – the full complexities of which don’t become fully apparent until the final curtain.

But it is Corelli’s command of ensemble work that continues to impress. When the other residents return home from their various weekends they discover that an intruder has entered the building. All their doors have been left wide open but nothing seems to have been stolen. And there is nothing to be seen of Chloe.

There is little room to manoeuvre in Kirsten Rodger’s tightly claustrophobic set, with all cast on stage for most of the time. Yet Corelli ensures that easy sense is made of a script in which the action and dialogue collapse in upon themselves. He makes sure that it is never quite clear which version of the truth you are supposed to be believing.

Fading in and out of the background are the three returning neighbours. The arrival of Lavern Hawthorne’s determined police inspector to investigate the mystery of the open doors begins to explore the potential truths of those neighbours – if not Chloe’s true whereabouts.

A necessary extra twist
Arron Usher gives a mature performance as Douglas in in Siege Perilous’ production of One Elliot Park. Photo © Gary Daniell Photography

Arron Usher gives a mature performance as Douglas in in Siege Perilous’ production of One Elliot Park. Photo © Gary Daniell Photography

Aaron Usher delivers a performance of real maturity as Douglas, the pernickety elder man who lives upstairs and still goes home to his parents at the weekend. Usher allows Douglas to be the overworked bureaucrat he appears to be to the Inspector, while filling in all the elements of the person who Chloe suspects him to be.

Danielle Farrow, too, is quite the moaning mum at the end of her tether as Debs. She’s endlessly clearing up after her twin boys – who seem to spend all their time out getting muddy – while her husband can’t be torn away from his office. Yet she spends a suspiciously long time working as a cleaner for her upstairs neighbour Douglas.

Both Douglas and Debs are obsessed by the actions of Mark, a drunken lad who lives downstairs, next to Chloe. If Tommie Hart doesn’t quite nail the role of Mark with the easy satisfaction that Usher and Farrow bring to the upstairs neighbours, he still provides that manic edge of someone with something to hide. And his interactions with Chloe add a necessary extra twist to the whole.

It is the twists and changes of pace which make this the success it is. Lindsay Miller is a young playwright to watch: she has a real ability to manipulate complex scenarios and fold them into a hugely theatrical situation. Good to see that she has new work lined up with RedRag for a Scottish tour next Spring.

But those complexities need an understanding hand. Andy Corelli is fast establishing himself as a director to watch in this series of new writing at Malmaison. It is particularly good to see the way he finds the best of his cast, but he is also revealing a splendidly tongue-in-cheek attitude to the use of music in his shows.

And in that ensemble, there is a real maturity. They succeed in creating the right atmosphere for light-hearted comedy – yet retain the ability to turn that on its head and find the dark heart of Miller’s script.

Great stuff, which will leave you blinking back out into the light of a midsummer evening – that will not be quite as you left it.

Run ends Tuesday 19 June 2012
Running time 70 mins.
Shows daily 8pm (4pm, Saturday 16)
Siege Perilous website: siegeperilous.co.uk

ENDS

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  1. Susan Wales says:

    I couldn’t agree more Thom. The script had the audience guessing to the end and the direction and acting were excellent.

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