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Pandas (Edinburgh)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Rona Munro's new play for the Traverse is a beautifully produced, touching and humourous love story. The play, set in leafy, spring-time, Edinburgh could have been a relatively conventional romantic tale, albeit one that tackles internet dating, East West relations and some nefarious activity. However, in Munro's hands we are taken on a delightfully surprising and poignant journey.

The darkly comic play concerns the affairs of three very different couples, whose paths intertwine as the theft of some Chinese rugs gets rather out of hand. We have the solid Scots policeman, the dodgy dealer, the rather helpless, young Scots-Chinese businessman and the intriguing women in their lives. A possible recipe for stereotyping in lesser hands.

Munro explores the relationships in a very detailed way but against a vivid backcloth of bigger themes. The cast is uniformally excellent, particularly Meg Fraser, as a neurotic entomoligist and Crystal Yu as a not so hopeless romantic. The sharp writing is enhanced by Rebecca Gatward's beautifully paced production, atmospherically designed by Liz Cooke.

As Edinburgh Zoo awaits the arrival of its own panda pairing, we find out that pandas wait an awful long time for the right mate to climb out the tree for but in Munro's play the wait and the journey are well worth it.


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