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Nests review at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘knotty examination of the nature of nurture’

David McKay and Ashleigh More in Nests. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
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Xana Marwick questions whether society is as committed to supporting its children as it believes it is, in her touring two-hander, Nests, for Frozen Charlotte and Stadium Rock.

In a ramshackle clearing on the edge of an insignificant town an unnamed man (David McKay) exists on cheep cider and regret, the remnants of his life strewn around his broken caravan. The Boy (Ashleigh More – making her professional debut) is 12 and starving, running away from something so vile he can’t remember what it is.

There’s plenty to admire in Heather Fulton’s direction of Marwick’s sparse and often discordant script. She lets it run without dialogue for what seems like an age as More explores the prone Mackay’s camp, petting crows and poking around his body, building a superb – and satisfying – head of tension for when the Man wakes.

Against More and McKay’s nicely judged realism, TV screens dotted around Katy Wilson’s two-dimensional set flicker into life to show the crows, which are given an extra dimension of reality by Matt Elliott’s sound.

Marwick’s script is predicated with how crows teach their young, and flock to those who are sick and dying. Her comparison is to the way the Man has treated his own child – and the failure of society to flock to his support.

But for all Marwick’s ability to expose a society that blames its victims, and some nicely judged flights of fancy, this never fully coheres as you feel it could.

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Knotty examination of the nature of nurture that entertains in parts