Whoever knew incest could be so dull? My Dearest Byron is a
new play that sets out to dramatise the unusually close relationship
between the poet and his half-sister Augusta Leigh. However, the play
seems to have been adapted from a niche Mills and Boon novel rather
than real events.
It all happens predictably; Byron and Augusta frolic amidst torn
shreds of poetry until the cruel forces of the world drag them
apart. It would help if their relationship was at all touching but it
just feels seedy, with Byron breathlessly asking "is this a sin?"
before taking Augusta in his arms and tossing her about, Dirty Dancing-style, as period music swells.
Unfortunately they are the only two characters and, while one is
despicable, the other can't act. Augusta is affected for the most part
and wooden when she isn't, while the actor playing Byron seems to have
based his portrayal on Stanford from Sex and the City mixed
with Lindsey Lohan. He is camp to the point that the incestuous
relationship seems to slide into a metaphor for homosexuality.
The play is narrated via chapters and page numbers for no apparent
reason - Byron was a poet not a novelist - and the lines of poetry used
are trite and all-too familiar. While this spell of Byron's life is
little-known and in reality fairly intriguing, on stage it is bland and
laughable when it should be scandalous.
- Catherine Sylvain
The above review is republished from Fest,
the essential on-the-ground magazine for festivalgoers, which
Whatsonstage.com has teamed up with for the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe. For
more Fest reviews, visit www.festmag.co.uk.