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Bloody Trams (Edinburgh Fringe)

A verbatim examination of the botched Edinburgh tram network gets pulses racing

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Cast of Bloody Trams
© Jeremy Abrahams

It's always nice to see a show at the Fringe that speaks directly to its local audience, and judging from the number of 'hear hears' and spontaneous rounds of applause emanating round Traverse 2 last night, Bloody Trams speaks more directly than most.

The thorny issue of the multimillion pound tram network that has slowly spread across Edinburgh over the past seven years has unsurprisingly pitched the locals and the planners at loggerheads.

All sides of the story are told in this verbatim piece from Utter that uses a technique pioneered by Alecky Blythe whereby the actors (Nicola Roy and Jonathan Holt) listen to headphones and relay the testimonies live.

It means that every 'umm' and stutter is included, which lends both authenticity and unintended humour. We also get a hint of the London Road effect when the words are turned into song, accompanied by David Paul Jones - who also acts as MC - on piano.

From angry locals to defensive council members, the team - led by director Joe Douglas - have skilfully edited together a wide range of voices. We hear that, as the budget spirals to over £770 million, it would have been cheaper to pave the route with gold than with tram-tracks, while the owner of a 150 year-old family business fears the upheaval will mean he's the last in the line.

Local anguish over civil engineering projects is nothing new, of course, but judging from the few people I've seen so far actually using the trams it's hard to argue with the dissent. The long-term environmental arguments for the network undoubtedly carry weight, but the enmity its botched creation has caused will hang over this city for many years to come.

Bloody Trams runs at the Traverse Theatre until 10 August