Aug 25 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆     Spooky

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (Venue 53): Mon 22 – Sat 27 Aug 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

Whispers, the solo show by bilingual performer Pat Zajac at theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall for the last week of the Fringe, is an evocative piece that sometimes struggles to be fully coherent.

A great deal conspires against this production. A horror story that should be seen at midnight, instead is on at midday. Much use is made of recorded sound, including spooky whispered voices; at first, these voices seem conflicting and muddled, until you realise that, in true Fringe style, much of the noise is actually coming from elsewhere in the venue – or even outside it.

Pat Zajac in Whispers

Nevertheless, there is an emotional drive to the story of PM Jones, a 19thcentury woman destroyed by a loveless marriage and driven to desperation.

This is the English version of a play, written by performer Zajac and director Kate Diuk, that will also be performed in Polish. It has to be said that the script – although well constructed – is not always convincing.

Some of the dialogue definitely comes across as awkwardly phrased and overly portentous, but its use of archaic language is always fitting, and there can be no doubting the commitment of Zajac to the role.

There is also no question of the sincerity behind the play, with its evocation of the horrendous treatment of women under the law in Victorian Britain – treatment due to the double standards that persist to this day.

Like any good horror, it often teeters on the brink of absurdity, but Zajac and Diuk always manage to keep the atmosphere intact.

recorded voices

Despite those sound problems, good use is made of other recorded voices from Mikolaj Figiel, Aryan Stanley, Ray Calleja, Łukasz Leszkiewicz, Wendy Lap, Stephen Corrall and Suzanne Senior. Once again, some of these come across more naturally than others, but the cumulative effect is striking.

The sound of the production has obviously been a product of much thought, with Zajac also supplying the music, and it is a pity that conditions are not more conducive. As it is, a great deal of suspension of disbelief is necessary, but the end result, while uneven, is undoubtedly powerful.

Running time: 50 minutes (no interval)
theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall (Theatre 1) Nicolson St, EH8 9DW (Venue 53)
Monday 22 – Saturday 27 August 2022
Daily: 11:40
Information and tickets: Book here.

Company website: https://www.lustrosceny.org
Instagram: @pat_zajac_creative_journey
Facebook: whispersplay

Pat Zajac in Whispers


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