Review – The Talented Mr Ripley

Aug 11 2012 | By More

* * * *

American High School Theatre Festival
Church Hill Theatre
Guest reviewer: Martin Gray

Tom Ripley can be anyone you want him to be. Herbert and Emily Greenleaf want him to be the person to reunite them with estranged son Rickie. Letting them believe he’s an old school pal, Tom takes the Greenleafs’ penny and travels to Italy, where Rickie is hanging around the beach and trying to become a painter.

That’s the set-up for Patricia Highsmith’s tale of charming psychopath Tom Ripley’s adventures in Europe, and in his head, but the young cast from Mississippi’s Oxford High School tell it so much better. From the hypnotic opening to the dark finale, this show – adapted from Highsmith’s thriller by Phyllis Nagy – grips like few others at the Fringe.

We’re transported from Fifties New York to Italy by some crates, a few bolts of blue cloth, clever lighting – and sublime acting. Lord, these kids are good. In the central role of Ripley, Colin Schultz exudes dark charisma. You believe this chameleon can manipulate everyone around him with quick wit and charm. Whether he’s alone on stage, calm, or losing control in a blaze of violence, Schultz always hits the right note.

As Rickie, Martin Bodenheimer is equally impressive, making us believe this wealthy young man is bright enough to make a life halfway across the world from home, while naive enough to be drawn into Tom’s web.

The leads’ achievements become even more impressive when you learn that Schultz and Bodenheimer have each learned both parts, and alternate at performances.

The rest of the cast – from Laykn Collier as Rickie’s girlfriend Marge to Meredith Brown as Ripley’s dominating Aunt Dottie – hold their own in this pacy 90-minute show.

Directed by John Davenport and Kate Leslie, and brought to Edinburgh as part of the American High School Theatre Festival, the Talented Mr Ripley stands head to head with the best shows I’ve seen this year.

It’s a shame that the Church Hill Theatre is off the map so far as many fringergoers are concerned, because it always hosts fine, varied productions. The remit is non-professional, but the goods on display are often first-rate. And at just a fiver a ticket, the Talented Mr Ripley is a steal to make any young psycho’s heart sing.

Run ends Saturday 11 August 2011

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Comments (2)

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  1. Steve Robertson says:

    I concur with the above review and I especially liked the stagecraft. It was an amazing and thoroughly enjoyable production.

  2. Anne Heffner says:

    This review is spot on! Davenport brings perfection from his actors and crew in this performance. Loved the clever staging, with blue material and trunks, which was so deftly executed as the excellence of the actors sustained the intensity of the storyline from beginning to end.