Aug 15 2019 | By More

★★☆☆☆    Attempted Utopia

Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236): Mon 12 – Sat 17 Aug 2019
Review by Federica Balbi

In Atlantis by Broadsword Theatre, playing at Greenside @ Infirmary Street for week two of the Fringe only, the myth of the lost city has been recreated on an island, home to a strict community.

The leader of the community imposes rigid rules to create a more natural lifestyle, although they are not easy to follow for newcomers. Games of power lie at the centre of Sam Eastop’s new script, although this is a production which has set its target a little too high.

Jade McQuillan and Martina Vondrova. Pic Broadsword Theatre

In a polluted and depressed world, Nel (Jade McQuillan) and Ben (Fraser Nickolls) decide to leave everything behind and move to Atlantis. When the couple arrive on the island, they soon realise how divergent the community’s ideas are as its leader Matthew (Sam Eastop) brings their relationship to breaking point.

Matthew’s wife Karolina (Martina Vondrova) and cult member Norman (Daniel McGravie) are the largest supporters of his crazy project. At the refrain ʻMay Atlantis prevailʼ, the adepts have to demonstrate their submission and devotion.

With his ambiguous smile, Matthew attracts newcomers to his island, blaming society for their weaknesses and promising them a better life. Ben is instinctively repulsed by the cult, while his wife is totally taken in by Matthew. Blinded by his promises, she is ready to do anything in order to be his favourite.


Eastop’s charismatic leader is the most convincing of the characters, but sadly not everyone is up to his standards. Supposedly a Londoner, Nel is betrayed by McQuillan’s strong Scottish accent, and not only does Norman’s role not feel justified but McGravie’s performance is rather passive. The acting generally lacks energy, except during a few moments of elevated tension, when director Alex Cook’s use of the space comes into its own.

To the play’s credit, the philosophical ideas behind the script are very interesting. Power relationships, betrayal, the dangers of brainwashing and blind fanaticism are developed through the narrative. It is just that they are not well played out. The plot has interesting twists, even though it could be more original.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
Greenside @ Infirmary Street, 6 Infirmary Street, EH1 1LT (Venue 236)
Monday 12 – Saturday 17 August 2019
Daily at 1.45 pm
Tickets and details:

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Daniel McGravie, Martina Vondrova, Jade McQuillan and Sam Eastop. Pic Broadsword Theatre


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