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Le Bossu review at Bedlam, Edinburgh – ‘beautiful design’

Le Bossu
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Bedlam’s glorious central arch, towering above the stage, must surely be the inspiration behind company WithWings choice of show this year. Beautifully lit by Tom Turner, the production seamlessly drops into the richly imaginative framework of organ pipes and ropes, created by designer Mark Portnell, to help tell the story of Le Bossu.

This imaginative take on Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is filled with beautiful, playful moments of physical theatre, music, dance and puppetry. As Parisian life unfolds on the streets, Tom Figgins’ shy, vulnerable Quasimodo sits in the bell tower, chatting to the bells. In one of the most charming touches, the bells are actors on swings, singing joyfully as the hunchback pulls on their ropes. Pigeons are fire bellows, pecking at pieces of croissant.

Restrictions in time necessitate the removal of swathes of the original story. In the process, the tone of the show becomes slightly off kilter. Interludes that play out as children’s theatre are well done, but seem off balance in a full-house bereft of kids. The company captures the conflict of the physical versus spiritual that forms the backbone of the story, but too little time is spent on the central characters for us to invest emotionally.

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Beautifully designed and performed but tonally off-kilter