Long Live the Little Knife (Edinburgh Fringe)
David Leddy presents his new play about 'art forgery, castration and blind drunkenness' at the Traverse
The smaller Traverse space is covered in paint-splattered dust sheets. Two actors, Wendy Seager and Neil McCormack, greet the audience. A stage manager sits at a desk crowded with a lighting console, sound effects, stage properties. The play starts.
David Leddy, a Glaswegian playwright, and his company, Fire Exit, dabble in theory, psychology and theatrics all over the world. In this curiously titled piece, they set up a story of art forgery in the criminal underworld, a meditation on artistic fakery with a severe Pirandellian twist in which the actors' identification with their characters' anguish leads to disaster.
It's all smartly, if a little stiltedly, done, the business of dealing in fake vintage handbags (they're "untruthfully" Pravda rather than Prada) leading to the "big one," the conceptual swindling of the international market with a fake Jackson Pollock (isn't he fake to start with?) once lost by Peggy Guggenheim playing strip poker with Liberace.
Seager and McCormack lead us on a switchback ride through shady encounters, brothels and séances, but the stage manager is in control and he (Linsey Johnstone as "David Leddy") keeps interrupting them with a red rubber glove thrown down like a grim gauntlet, symbolic reminder of their barren intellectual hinterland, their childlessness and tragedy.
An unusual production doesn't altogether avoid a sense of hollowness or artificiality, but that's probably the point. And the writing is clever and wittily astringent throughout.