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Drenched review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘intriguing subversion of the one-man storytelling show’

Dan Frost in Drenched at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. Photo: Third Man Theatre Dan Frost in Drenched at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh. Photo: Third Man Theatre

Eddie Elks and Dan Frost’s new play has fun with the tropes of the one-man storytelling show.

Dan Frost plays Daniel Drench, a Cornish storyteller, here to regale his audience with a Cornish folk tale, the Mermaid of Zennor. In ripped skinny jeans and a head-mic, he stalks the room as he earnestly relates the tale of Mathey Trewella, a young man with a fine voice who became enraptured with a mysterious beautiful woman.

But his telling of this tale is full of awkwardly long dips into silence and static patches where Frost stands and stares while recorded voiceovers are played.

An increasingly aggressive edge creeps into his performance. He snaps when he feels like a lighting cue has been mishandled; he becomes visibly frustrated that the audience isn’t sufficiently on side. He mutters darkly about auditioning for Poldark. Funny as this is, the shift comes too late to be fully effective.

Elks’ writing often has an intriguingly dreamlike quality – Botallack O’Clock, his play about artist Roger Hilton, was a case in point – and the conceit of the frustrated actor, seething at his audience while becoming weirdly psychologically entangled with his story, has real potential. The bits when Drench disrupts his own show are the highlights, but it’s slow going before that point.

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Intriguing subversion of the one-man storytelling show that takes a while to find its feet