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My Dearest Byron

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
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23-30 August, 20:35

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.

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