Casanova Dreaming

Aug 10 2018 | By More

★★☆☆☆    Overly complex

TheSpace@ Niddry St (Venue 9): Mon 6–Sat 25 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

Arbery Production’s Casanova Dreaming at TheSpace on Niddry Street is a breathless dash through the 18th century that tries to cram enough material for several hours into 50 minutes.

Martin Foreman’s new play about the life of the notorious libertine shows the slumbers of a young Casanova, in bed with his lover, interrupted by a mysterious older visitor, and then by a series of other figures who seem to be giving him warnings about his life to come.

Casanova Dreaming. Arbery Productions EdFringe 2018 Patrick Bergamo and Sarah Stanton with Creighton King looking on. Pic Arbery Productions

Patrick Bergamo and Sarah Stanton with Creighton King looking on. Pic: Arbery Productions

The main drawback to the production is that it tries to shoe horn in so much. The other five cast members play fourteen characters from Casanova’s life, some of them on stage for what seems like seconds before the same performer comes back under a different name.

The effect may be intended to be impressionistic, but it ends up as confusing. This is a common problem when shows are devised, written and directed by one person; they know exactly what is going on, but audience members can end up feeling like they need some kind of graph to follow who everyone is. Conversely, the one thing that may be intended to be kept secret – for a big reveal later on – is obvious from the beginning.

Mike Brownsell, for example, appears as five different characters, all with different accents. He does each of them very well, but you cannot help wondering why they all have to be there.

The performers who play various women in Casanova’s life – Junior Cross, Polina Sulim, Sarah Stanton and Beverley Wright – all get to the point where they have created their character and piqued the audience’s interest, then they have to go off, come on as someone else and start all over again. It would have been much better to limit the number of characters and give each of them more time and space to breathe.

stately and dominant

Patrick Bergamo’s Casanova is a likeable characterisation, although perhaps lacking the fatal charisma necessary for such a womaniser. Creighton King is stately and dominant as his mysterious visitor, adding a necessary touch of gravitas without which the action that whirls around him would be even more difficult to follow.

There are interesting musings on love, on ageing and on Europe in here, but they are also suffocated by the constant flow of events. The overload of reminiscences does not necessarily end up telling us much about a character everyone has heard of but few know anything about.

A trickily sized in-the-round space is handled deftly, and potential problems with audibility and visibility are neatly avoided. Which, added to the accomplished performances, shows that this production could be considerably improved if it did not try to do far too much in too short a time.

Running time 50 minutes (no interval)
Upper Theatre, TheSpace @ Niddry St (Venue 9), Niddry St, EH1 1TH
Monday 6 – Saturday 25 August 2018
Daily (not Sunday 12, 19) at 2.15 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website:
Facebook: @ArberyProductions
Twitter: @arberyprodctns


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Comments (1)

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  1. Suzanne Senior says:

    It was an enjoyable production but I agree that there were too many characters crammed into too short a space of time. It reminds me of A Christmas Carol, but there are only three ghosts, and there is therefore ample opportunity for character development.
    Excellent performances all round though.