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Strangers: Pairs review at Greenside, Edinburgh – ‘a nice idea’

A scene from Strangers: Pairs at Greenside, Edinburgh A scene from Strangers: Pairs at Greenside, Edinburgh
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The concept here is strong: to work magic into the narrative of a theatre piece. But this collection of three scenes doesn’t come close to pulling it off.

Director and writer Joe Strickland introduces each scene, eventually becoming embroiled in the show as it begins to go wrong.

Scene one has two people who meet on a desert island, an ex-magician and his sister reunite in the attic of their childhood home for the second scene, and finally an old school magician argues with his assistant about whether to update magic acts or keep them traditional.

That last scene is the best, raising some interesting points about the dodgy misogynistic and racist traditions of magic. But it still suffers from the same problems as the other two: very artificial, very stilted dialogue performed awkwardly by a cast that doesn’t seem to have mastery over their lines.

Nor mastery over the tricks, all of which are very basic and some clumsily executed. The directing is such that a fair few of the side seats can see exactly how the grand finale is done – but it wouldn’t have been too difficult to work that out anyway.

Kudos to Strickland for the idea. It’s just that it tries to do a huge amount, and none of it well.

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Incorporating magic into theatre is a nice idea, but badly executed