Outside on the Street (Edinburgh Fringe)
Invertigo's production sees an all-male ensemble tackle this 'challenging European drama', directed by Cheek by Jowl associate Owen Horsley
There are a number of important points made in Wolfgang Borchert's play written in just six days after his own escape from a prisoner of war camp and, often, they are explored in unique and interesting ways.
We hear the story of Sergeant Beckmann, a soldier recently returned from war, and his attempts to find a way to live again despite the changes wrought in him by the experiences of war.
The story is told through a variety of grotesque characters including some striking conversations between God and Death. The humour is dark and the pace is fast.
The all-male ensemble are impressive, switching between characters, playing instruments and working slickly and graciously together. However the production never really draws us in effectively.
The story gets repetitive, the same metaphor about war veterans all being 'outside on the street' is overused and the characters, with a couple of exceptions, are rarely engaging enough.
The set, created of metal boxes, looks stark and effective but quickly becomes tiresome and irritating as boxes are constantly moved around with very little discernible aesthetic effect. Even the musical interludes, which are neither frequent nor tuneful, seem odd.
In some ways the disconnected, confusing atmosphere created on stage effectively mirrors the structure and sentiment of the piece. But overall what it really creates is an inability to purposefully enter the world of the piece and comprehend much of what Borchert was trying to say.
- Lucy Danser
Outside on the Street continues at the Jack Dome, Pleasance Dome until 26 August