Light Boxes

Aug 16 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Love and regret

Summerhall (venue 26): Fri 7 – Sun 30 Aug 2015

Light Boxes is fascinating. Grid Iron Theatre Company has woven a complex web, leaving the audience struggling to interpret what they are seeing.

At first glance Light Boxes is a post-apocalyptic dystopian tale; at second it’s a representation of seasonal affective disorder and a statement on the changing climate; at third it’s a pandora myth; at fourth it’s a powerful god dilemma; and finally it’s a glimpse at an author, his inspiration and a question of who it is that really writes a story’s ending.

Vicki Manderson. Photo: Richard Campbel

Vicki Manderson. Photo: Richard Campbel

Based on Shane Jones’ 2010 novel of the same name, Light Boxes centres on a man named Thaddeus (Keith Macpherson) and his wife, Selah (Melody Grove) and daughter, Bianca (Vicki Manderson). They’re living in a never-ending February, subjected to hundreds and hundreds of days of perpetual winter.

This is a place where things get gradually worse with each passing day. A place where you try, even when you know things will fail, but you try for trying’s sake. A place where children disappear.

The story follows this family until every particle of hope is squeezed from them and they’re left broken in the snow. And then there’s a tiny spark left jumping at the bottom of the mint filled box.

Director Finn den Hertog has adapted the novel into a piece of theatre. In doing so the TechCube at Summerhall has been transformed into a forest, littered with decaying civilisation. There’s a smell of mint and woodchips in the air. Cleverly, designer Karen Tennent has invested lot of time and energy to making the perfect setting for the story and as a result it’s completely immersive.

evocative and haunting

For an hour and 20 minutes the audience lives in that world, surrounded by sights, smells, live music and visual projections. With Michael John McCarthy’s music in particular adding an evocative and haunting dimension.

The nature of the staging, however, means that there’s always too much to see. There’s often a sense that you’ll miss something from the other side of the cube. Which actually is a testament to the actors – they each are continually engaging with first class performances that are captivating.

This is truly a fringe experience like no other. It has all the ingredients of a masterpiece, executed impeccably by Grid Iron.

And yet, the source material is perhaps too frustratingly complex to bring the author’s intent to life. You’ll be stunned, you may even love the production, but can you be sure you’ve truly understood?

Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Summerhall (Venue 26), 1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL
Friday 7 – Sun 30 August 2015
Daily, not Tuesday: 7.15pm; Sat/Sun, 22/23 and 29/30: 2.30pm.
Book tickets from Edfringe website:
Grid Iron website:


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