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Dead to Me (Edinburgh Fringe)

A dark comedy from Gary Kitching about what we do and don't believe in

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Gary Kitching
© Topher McGrillis

In comedy terms, psychics and mediums are an easy shot. It doesn't take much to mock a profession that already veers close to the ridiculous. Gary Kitching's new play, however, spins a more elaborate – and much blacker – joke than most.

Protagonist Steven doesn't believe in ghosts. He's only visiting a psychic because he has a gift voucher. But soon an event in his own life pushes him deeper and deeper into the world of the supernatural, striking up an unlikely friendship with a woman who claims to commune with the dead. Then Steven discovers an other-worldly talent of his own, steering events in a startling new direction.

It's a simple enough story, but one with a dark undertow. Along with an implicit investigation of what we choose to see and hear, Dead to Me prods at the cruelty of belief, disbelief and deceit. In Selma Dimitrijevic's taut in-the-round production, psychic and client warily circle one another between scenes; a dance of seduction, suspicion and superstition.

It's a small if carefully crafted piece, often feeling like one dark joke stretched out over several scenes. As cleverly executed as that joke may be, I'm left – like Steven – wanting just a little more.

Dead to Me runs at Roundabout @ Summerhall until 23 August.