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Jeffrey Archer’s Prison Diary Hell review at Underbelly

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What an irony James Rayment has come up with in adapting Jeffrey Archer’s first volume of prison diaries. Not that he expects anyone to believe the writing of a convicted perjurer. Rather that, if the diaries are truthful, then his fellow inmates expected Archer to tell the truth – asked him too, even – about life behind bars.

It is to Rayment’s credit that this dreadful irony comes shining through what is otherwise potentially tedious stuff. He directs extremely well, bringing out excellent performances from his cast. Andrew MacBean is particularly strong as Archer. He succeeds in helping the audience understand what it must be like to spend time in prison and still makes Archer one of the more insufferably arrogant characters on this year’s Fringe.

Redd Pepper is also strong in his creation of various screws and cons, both vicious and dim, who give MacBean plenty of variety to act against. Unsurprisingly, given their source, most of the other peripheral characters are fairly cliched. But it is still the central irony which is most memorable.

Production Information

Underbelly, August 7-30

Author
Adapted by James Rayment
Director
James Rayment
Producer
PWP in association with Bigfoot Theatre Company
Cast includes
Andrew MacBean, Redd Pepper, Karen Clayton, James Rayment
Running time
1hr

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