Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow Belt Up's Twenty Minutes to Nine
Belt Up's Twenty Minutes to Nine
Published on Wednesday, 10 August 2011

4 stars

C venues - C soco (venue website)
3-29 Aug, 5:45pm-6:45pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

Stop all the clocks.  If there’s a theme to link the numerous parallel narratives unveiled in this one-woman show, it’s a sense of being frozen in time.  Whether they’re trapped in a remembered past, literally imprisoned in an asylum, or confined to their home by shame, each of the characters recalled in her narrative proves divided from society – waiting, forever waiting, for the moment that will set them free.

There’s more than a hint of Dickens’ Miss Havisham about our narrator, Eleanor, who sits – clad in ragged lace, one slipper hanging from her foot – at a faded dressing table.  But, sensitively portrayed by Belt Up regular Lucy Farrett, this is no broken jilted bride; she’s vivacious, coquettish, playful – at least to the extent that her failing body allows.

As you’d expect from Belt Up, it’s a two-way affair; we’re invited into this old lady’s parlour, and she talks to us as friends.  She shares gossipy secrets, with a hint of conspiratorial wickedness – even inducing selected members of the audience to blurt out forbidden words.  Most of her tales have a heart of darkness, all the more horrible for being so casually described.  As a child, she says, she used to visit the local asylum – where a shilling bought a tour of the madmen in their cages, and their cries served not to terrify, but to entertain.

It’s a bravura performance from Farrett, and there’s plenty in the script to both provoke and entertain.  But I’m a brave enough man, and a confident enough reviewer, to admit the following: I just didn’t understand the ending at all.  It’s clear that we’re meant to deduce more about the narrator than I was able to glean; but her personal history, and her links to her many stories, remained frustratingly obscure to me.  At the end, as she turned back to her cluttered dressing table and clutched a treasured keepsake, I felt her sadness and isolation – but I was unable to share in it, for I didn’t grasp its cause.

It’s intriguing to see the constantly-innovative Belt Up try their hand at a relatively conventional play – and I can’t find any fault with the ever-impressive Farrett, who weaves a vibrant and touching character from the script’s diverse threads.  Ultimately though, Twenty Minutes To Nine takes a long and winding road to an uncertain destination.  I’m left with the sense of an incomplete journey, however much I may have enjoyed the scenery along the way.

<< I am Google   The Noise Next Door - The... >>