Skip to content


The sun that casts no shadows
Published on Friday, 17 May 2013

Promotional Image

1 stars

Volks Bar & Club (venue website)
11-12 May, 7:30pm-8:45pm; 18-19 May, 6:15pm-7:30pm, 8:15pm-9:30pm
Reviewed by Darren Taffinder

 World Premiere.
 Suitable for age 16+ only.

As I walked down towards the seafront on my way to see The Sun That Casts No Shadows, I was concerned about how much of it was going to be outside. The weather was grim and only seemed to be getting worse. The show is an “immersive promenade adaptation” of Albert Camus’s The Outsider (or The Stranger depending on the translation), and centres around the Volks Bar & Club; luckily, most of it turned out to be indoors, which might be one of the better things I can say about this show.

I last read the book in school twenty years ago, but for those who don’t know the story, in a nutshell it’s about French Algerian Meursault – a character so emotionally detached he verges on the Asperger’s spectrum – who shoots a man on the beach after the death of his mother.

There were some moments I really enjoyed. I liked the dance sequences, especially the scenes in the cinema and the courtroom pre-trial. I also enjoyed the segments that were shown via CCTV, though the TV was too small and it was difficult for everyone to see. There seemed to be some problems with a few of the multimedia elements and the weather didn’t help with the outside scenes, but the players were able to work around these issues. And I also appreciated the recurring motif of an older woman brushing the floor.

However, these highlights were too few and far between. Narratively, the show was mess: the play seemed to be structured more to move us from one place to the next than to build a coherent story. I was a little lost in some parts, other parts seemed undeveloped, some parts were pretentious and some were just plain boring.

I was mystified by the funeral procession at the start. Was it the shooting victim’s coffin, or Meursault’s mother’s? I didn’t understand the bit with the dog owner until I arrived back home and looked up the novel on Wikipedia. There were also times when so much was happening I didn’t know where to focus my attention. The whole thing seemed unnecessarily convoluted, and the cast appeared more defeated than pleased at the end of the show.

The show starts strongly French Algerian, but ended up very firmly on the UK side of the Channel. At the beginning we were addressed in French by Stephen Hudson’s prosecutor, but as it progressed some of the actors jarringly used Briticisms like “mate” and “chap”. Either be brave and adapt it to a UK setting, or try to stay in Algiers! It needed a clearer cultural identity, and generally, a firm hand and a strong vision is something this adaptation would have really benefited from.

Finally, some of the acting was better than the rest. I found Joshua Maclellan’s Meursault a little flat: I know he’s supposed to be emotionally detached, but he was bordering on wooden at times. I didn’t like how they sometimes changed narrators, and how some narrators looked like they were reading from the book. It felt a bit like a school play where they had more cast members than speaking parts.

I’m in my second year of reviewing the Brighton Fringe for FringeGuru, and this is the first time I’ve brought out the one star. I am not the sort of reviewer who enjoys rubbishing plays, and I’ve really thought these comments through. However, I just can’t go any higher. I applaud the ambition – but there were just too many things that were wrong.

<< The Well   179 Hackney Road >>