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Hayton on Homicide

Royal College of Surgeons
7 - 29 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 10:30pm (11:30pm); 24 - 29 Aug, also 5:30pm (6:30pm)

There's a vast array of new Fringe theatre clamouring for attention this year... but this play, in particular, has caught our eye.  An intriguing diversion off the well-trodden path of the Victorian parlour mystery, it's set to combine two of the topics which most fascinated our 19th century forebears: the emerging scientific detection of crime, and the continuing exploration of the occult.

Hayton on HomicideSet in 1880's Cambridge, the script's centred on husband-and-wife academic pair George and Florence Hayton, whose theories and beliefs tug in strikingly different directions.  He's a pioneer in the field of forensics; she's embroiled in the then-respectable scientific study of life after death.  Inevitably, an unexplained death sets the two world-views on a collision course - and as they each begin their separate investigations, we're promised the results will be "funny, thought-provoking and chilling in turn".

Hayton has an added resonance here in Edinburgh, birthplace of Arthur Conan Doyle; indeed, it's tempting to see George and Florence as projections of the famous author's own fractured beliefs.  Sherlock Holmes exemplified the Victorian perception of the methodical, scientific sleuth - yet Conan Doyle himself believed passionately in the spiritual world.  And the show's venue, the august and venerable Royal College of Surgeons, is an evocative choice too.  As you watch the play, picture the Victorian physicians who once walked these halls... grappling with the very same confrontation of science and superstition addressed on-stage today.

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