Heir Heads

Aug 23 2019 | By More

★★★☆☆    Considerable zip

theSpace on North Bridge (Venue 36): Mon 19– Sat 24 Aug 2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

Heir Heads, Pretty Knickers Productions’ comedy at theSpace on North Bridge, has a cacklingly amoral glee that gives it some force.

Calum Ferguson and Lewis Lauder’s new play features three self-entitled upper-crust sisters who have been waiting for their great-uncle to die, so they can inherit the land and title they believe to be rightfully theirs. Unfortunately, a hitherto unknown distant relative shows up at the will reading and threatens to scupper their plans.

The Harrington Sisters. Pic: Pretty Knickers

There is considerable comic drive to the play, although its cartoonish qualities do make any emotional attachment to the characters nigh-on impossible. It is interesting how many new works are billed as ‘dark comedies’ when they are far from dark – there is a primary-coloured sheen to this that is rather appealing. Indeed, shorn of its swearing and sex references reveal the structure of a children’s story here, and it is none the worse for that.

Claire Docherty (Poppy), Niamh Kinane (Charlotte) and Sarah Dingwall (Violet) give the Harrington sisters real energy and presence. It is impossible to get too bothered about whether such horrendous creations as the bossy Poppy or the would-be ‘influencer’ Charlotte get what they want – even be too bothered about the inevitably nice-but-dim Violet. However, the sheer momentum the characters produce smooths over the odd lapse in accent and keeps things moving at speed.

expansive physicality

Ferguson himself gives the mysterious Oliver an expansive physicality; he and Becky Niven as his associate Holly navigate some tricky switches in accent with some ease. Mhairi McCall’s solicitor also has a difficult transition in her character that she copes with admirably.

Holly and Ollie. Pic: Pretty Knickers

The sheer silliness of the set-up means that there is very little room for social comment or indeed any kind of realism, except perhaps to say that people can be greedy. But the daftness and glee with which it is all presented are impressive.

There are, however, genuine problems with the staging. The Fife Theatre in the Hilton on North Bridge is an unforgiving venue – a typically tiny Fringe space that might do for stand-up, but is hardly suitable for theatre with any size of audience. Rows of seats are crammed in, and the end-on acting area is raised only a matter of centimetres form floor level.

a row of heads

It means that large parts of the ‘stage’ are very difficult to see from most of the room, and when characters sit down – as they do too often here – they are simply invisible to over half of the audience. Even at the best of times, many have to be satisfied with seeing a row of heads. The staging is also over-fussy, with too many needless furniture moves.

Luckily, the energetic and whole-hearted nature of the production is enough to overcome this. While the comic impact is lessened, it is undoubtedly present.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
theSpace on North Bridge, North Bridge, EH1 1SD (Venue 36)
Monday 19 – Saturday 24 August 2019
Daily at 6.35 pm
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/heir-heads

Facebook: @prettyknickersproductions/
Instagram: @prettyknickersproductions
Twitter: @pretty_knickers

Ms Woods. Pic: Pretty Knickers


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