Skip to content


Published on Sunday, 08 September 2013

4 stars

Pleasance Courtyard (venue website)
31 Jul, 1-12, 14-26 Aug, 7:10pm-8:00pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

There comes a point in every Fringe when you’ve had enough of “important” theatre; when you want to see something that’s engaging and professional, but which isn’t overly taxing on the brain. So there’s nothing back-handed in the compliment I’m paying, when I say that Kubrick³ entirely fits that bill. An unashamed comedy – albeit one which still contains a few morsels of food for thought – it tells the befuddling real-life story of a man called Alan Conway, who for a brief period in the early 1990’s managed to convince the world that he was, in fact, the film director Stanley Kubrick.

Set shortly after Conway’s death, Kubrick³ features not three but four Kubricks – or more precisely, a gaggle of four spectral Conways impersonating Kubricks.  At times the group acts as a chorus, but for most of the play the Conways debate and bounce reminiscences off each other, as though reflecting different facets of the complex personality which must have underpinned his fraud.  It’s an elegant device, which is cleverly pushed that little bit beyond your expectations: the four men are played by both male and female actors of comically different heights, all clad in matching ghostly greys and distressed tank-tops.  Wisely, the script never feels the need to explain exactly why there are so many copies of the same character on the stage.

The emotional heart of the story is furnished by Conway’s poor, put-upon son, played with ironic patience by the perfectly-cast Andy McLeod.  The son’s there to remind us that Conway’s shenanigans weren’t entirely victimless – and I duly felt a stab of fellow-feeling, as we watched painful scenes from the younger man’s life made all the more difficult by thoughtless embellishments from his father.  Perhaps there’s a little more to be drawn out of that darkness, just to balance the overwhelmingly upbeat tone of the plot.  But despite myself, I couldn’t help embrace a sense of joy when Conway completed his transformation to Kubrick; he’s living the dream we’ve all occasionally had, by re-inventing himself as a different (and far more fascinating) man.

The play likes to pretend that it’s aware of its own questionable production values, with the actors frequently apologising to the audience for the claimed shortcomings of their performances.  But despite such scripted protestations, this is actually a very slick show.  True enough, the set consists almost entirely of a single screen on wheels – but as it trundles back and forth across the stage, it trails a seemingly endless variety of visual gimmicks in its wake.  Characters appear and disappear, like in a magic trick, as the screen passes in front of them; videos play onto its surface, and at one point there’s a clever mix of projection onto the screen merged with live action behind.

This show isn’t total frippery – there is a lesson of sorts at the end, and it goes at least some of the way towards making sense of Conway’s bizarre deception.  But primarily, Kubrick³ is a burst of fun-loving, fast-moving, intelligent comedy, which neither wants nor needs to be much more.  In the last few minutes, the pace lifts once again: the fourth wall crumbles into dust, the script grows more and more ridiculous, and just when it’s about to grow a little bit wearying it comes to a satisfying end.  So if you’ve become a little jaded with the Fringe – or with theatre in general – this entertaining tale might just be the perfect pick-me-up.

<< Killing Roger   The Ribbon Tied >>

About our star ratings

We've changed our rating system for this year.

Find out more >>

Follow our reviews!

RSS Subscribe to RSS
Twitter Follow us on Twitter

Editor's Blog

We're blogging this month about the ethics and practice of arts reviewing at the Fringe.  Come and join the discussion.

Visit the blog >>