Skip to content

FringeGuru

 
Allotment
Published on Sunday, 12 August 2012
4

4 stars

Assembly Inverleith Allotments (venue website)
Theatre
10, 14-17 Aug, 11:00am-12:00pm, 12:00pm-1:00pm, 1:00pm-2:00pm; 11-12, 18-19 Aug, 4:00pm-5:00pm, 5:00pm-6:00pm, 6:00pm-7:00pm
Reviewed by Brianne Moore

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

Fringe shows are known for being creative with their venues, so I wasn’t at all surprised to be settling in to watch a show called Allotment in, well, an allotment. One of the spaces in the charming and exceedingly well-kept Inverleith Park, to be exact. Fortunately the weather held (though the audience is kindly offered umbrellas, just in case), but the beautiful surroundings and polite offerings of tea and homemade scones serve to lull you into a false sense of comfort and ease. You may think you’re in for a nice afternoon of entertainment featuring a pair of squabbling sisters, but what you get is a rather dark and heavy-hitting look at the damage even well-meaning family members can inflict on one another.

The action centres entirely on two sisters: Maddy – flighty and imaginative, and Dora – practical and controlling. We see them bicker through childhood and on into adulthood and, eventually, old age. Their family’s allotment is where most of the meaningful events in their lives seem to unfold: it’s here that Maddy engages in an affair with a married man that leaves her pregnant. It’s also where Dora starts seriously running her down, undermining relationships Maddy develops with others and making her wholly reliant on Dora for everything, even simple decisions like what colour to wear.

Dora, it seems, suffers from one of the worst kinds of selfishness: the kind that makes her keep her sister close and helpless because, as she herself later wonders, what would she be left with if Maddy had a family of her own? It never seems to occur to her that this treatment would leave Maddy in a terrible position if Dora were to die first.

The play’s darker themes are tempered with enough light moments that you walk away thoughtful, rather than completely depressed. The actresses playing the sisters (Nicola Jo Cully and Gowan Calder as Maddy and Dora, respectively) have excellent chemistry and play off one another beautifully. Calder manages to take Dora, a character that could easily come across as something of a monster, and make her human. Yes, she’s rather cruel to Maddy, but you get a sense that she really believes what she’s doing is in Maddy’s best interests. And there’s a hint of guilt there as well, since Maddy’s possible mental and emotional underdevelopment might be the result of a childhood fall caused by Dora.

As the nature-loving, childlike Maddy, Cully gets many of the most beautiful speeches, and also the most heartbreaking one as she speaks wrenchingly of her emotional pain following the termination of her pregnancy. It was at this point that the venue yielded an unexpected surprise: right after she spoke about how painful it was to hear children playing every day, an actual child in the nearby playground squealed happily. It was a devastating moment, for both audience and actresses, and they reacted appropriately.

Allotment is well worth the trip off the Mile and the risk of being rained on. The show is poignant and beautifully presented… and if that’s not quite enough to tempt you, the homemade scones and jam are excellent as well.

<< As You Like It   Anon(ymous) >>

FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

Edinburgh 2012 Five Stars

5 stars Comedy
Totally Tom


5 stars Comedy
The Magical Adventures of Pete Heat


5 stars Theatre
Bye Bye World


5 stars Comedy
Barbershopera: The Three Musketeers


5 stars Comedy
Truth


5 stars Theatre
The House of Shadows


5 stars Cabaret
Briefs


5 stars Theatre
Made for Each Other - Free


5 stars Comedy
Tony Law: Nonsense Overdrive


5 stars Comedy
Ivo Graham and Liam Williams


5 stars Comedy
Hannibal Buress: Still Saying Stuff


5 stars Comedy
The Blanks' Big Break


5 stars Theatre
A Clockwork Orange


5 stars Comedy
Richard Wiseman: Psychobabble


5 stars Comedy
Martin Mor: A Man You Donít Meet Everyday


5 stars Theatre
1984


5 stars Comedy
Swedenborg, the Devil and Me


5 stars Theatre
The Trench


5 stars Theatre
Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut


5 stars Theatre
Joyced!


5 stars Theatre
An Evening With Dementia


5 stars Comedy
Scott Agnew: Tales of the Sauna


5 stars Theatre
Comedian Dies in the Middle of Joke


5 stars Comedy
Chris Ramsey: Feeling Lucky


5 stars Comedy
The Horne Section - Live at the Grand!


5 stars Theatre
How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found


5 stars Theatre
The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle


5 stars Theatre
Songs of Lear


5 stars Cabaret
Jonny Woo: Wonder Woo-Man


5 stars Comedy
Josie Long: Romance and Adventure


5 stars Comedy
10 Films With My Dad


5 stars Theatre
4.48 Psychosis


5 stars Theatre
As You Like It


5 stars Theatre
Appointment With The Wicker Man


5 stars Comedy
Jessie Cave: Bookworm


5 stars Comedy
Morgan & West: Lying, Cheating Scoundrels


5 stars Theatre
Hearts on Fire


5 stars Theatre
Rainbow


5 stars Comedy
Chris Dangerfield: Sex Tourist


5 stars Comedy
Chris McCausland: Not Blind Enough


5 stars Theatre
Chatroom


5 stars Comedy
Peacock & Gamble Don't Even Want To Be On Telly Anyway


5 stars Theatre
I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I'm Afraid to Tell You


5 stars Comedy
John Robertson - The Dark Room - Free


5 stars Kids'
Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger