Low Level Panic

Aug 13 2019 | By More

★★★★☆    High level

The Royal Scots Club (Venue186): Mon 12– Sat 17 Aug 2019
Review by Hugh Simpson

Arkle’s early-evening production of Low Level Panic at the Royal Scots Club is excellently put together and performed.

Clare McIntyre’s 1988 play is obviously set in a world pre-internet and pre-mobiles, but still deals with all-too-recognisable situations. Indeed, modern devices, ways of interacting and expectations have probably magnified the concerns displayed.

Claire McCarragher (Mary) in Low Level Panic. Pic: Arkle Theatre Company

Jo’s obsession with a celebrity lifestyle leads her to feel inadequate; Mary has been the victim of an assault, while Celia thinks everything will fall into place if you only have the right moisturising regime.

The depiction of the male gaze, double standards and outright misogyny is almost guaranteed to make any man in the audience feel uneasy. Yet this is by no means worthy or depressing; while very little happens in terms of plot, the characters are well drawn, and so well performed, that it is hugely involving.

Catriona Bone’s Jo, fantasising about meaningless sex with impossibly glamorous men while actually yearning to be part of a couple, is portrayed with spiky authority. Claire McCarragher shows Mary’s struggles with an almost frightening degree of conviction. Celia is a less well developed character, but Megan Lambie gives convincing hints of her inner life.

decidedly impressive

In many ways, the play seems prophetic – in a world where pornography does not just come in the odd magazine, judging and rating appearance seems inescapable, and there is Love Island, the panic may be of a considerably higher level.

Jenny Tamplin’s direction is top class, making use of the set – the bathroom which the three of them spend an inordinate amount of time waiting to use – cleverly and fluidly. There is an urgency to all three performances, and more importantly to the way they interact with each other, that is decidedly impressive.

As a result, there is a reality to the world that is portrayed. Potentially tricky transitions between conversation and monologue are handled with ease and the pace is exactly right. It is possible that this production could slip under the radar but it certainly deserves to be seen.

Running time 1 hour 25 minutes (no interval)
The Royal Scots Club, 29-33 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE (Venue 241)
Monday 12 – Saturday 17August 2019
Daily at 6.15pm
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/low-level-panic

Arkle website: https://arkle-theatre.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Arkle-Theatre-Company-90472754009/

Catriona Bone (Jo) in Low Level Panic. Pic: Arkle Theatre Company


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