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The Murderer review at Zoo Southside, Edinburgh – ‘poetic take on rehabilitation’

The Murderer at Zoo Southside
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Somewhere in a world just like ours, rehabilitating criminals is a matter for care in the community – even for murderers. Adapted from a poem by Luke Kennard, Clown Funeral’s play turns out to be a surreal and almost sci-fi premise helped by moody mobile frames that create an edgy, minimalist staging.

Like a reality game show, a supervisor and a murderer move from prison into the former’s flat. It’s awkward but they soon get used to the quirks and weird routine of living together – cooking without knives stops being an issue, meditation becomes a welcome routine, the murderer learns to ignore the supervisor constantly dictating notes into a recorder about her habits and reactions.

Whimsical but with something darker seeming to be always around the corner, the action is punctuated by an actor at a mic providing a steady stream of clips from TV shows, forecasts and news as the rest of the world continues its normal course. The frames become the apartment, a taxi or ticket office, and provide an effective vehicle for splitting dialogue while elegant music drives the transitional moments.

This three-hander comes with a revolving cast of five, and this night’s cast of Freddie Paul, Ella Tebay and Patrick Tobin work well as an ensemble under Sam George’s subtle yet ambitious direction. A little more depth, however, needs to be written into the script about the relationship between the couple. On a more practical level, there is a problem with projection that distracts, while movement is not as tight as it should be.

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Unusual, poetic take on crime rehabilitation hits the spot but needs more work