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Flies review at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh – ‘a little bit brilliant’

Piers Hampton, George Readshaw, Harry Humberstone. Photo: The Other Richard Piers Hampton, George Readshaw, Harry Humberstone. Photo: The Other Richard
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Pteronarcophobia. That’s the fear of flies. And it’s what drives this intelligently staged co-production between master storytellers Les Enfants Terribles and family-focused theatre company Pins and Needles.

Dennis is scared of flies. Terrified, in fact. So much so that he’s got to see a therapist about it. That he’s prepared to seal up his home and stay indoors forever. That he’s prepared to board a flight to Antarctica – a magical, no-fly zone.

Under Emma Earle and Hannah Drake’s ceaselessly inventive direction, Oliver Lansley’s play is a fluid examination of Dennis’ phobia, from its origins to its eventual defeat, littered with little skits and sketches, and accompanied by a twee electronica score courtesy of Kid Carpet.

We get a young Dennis horrified by a classmate’s dissection of a live insect. We get Dennis freaking out on a flight to the South Pole. Best of all, we get Piers Hampton as a shape-shifting fly.

In a white tuxedo, Hampton smarms and oozes his way across the stage, taunting Dennis and taunting the audience with his sinister, sleazy vibes – it’s a wonderful, wrong-footing performance throughout, aided and abetted by Harry Humberstone’s multi-roling hype-man. In fact, the whole thing is a little bit brilliant.

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Inventive, intelligent three-hander about a man with a crippling phobia of flies