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The Ladder review at Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh – ‘amusing meditation on disempowerment’

Helen Rutter and Rob Rouse in The Ladder
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Stuck at the top of a stepladder, her little finger trapped in the hinge, Clare is about as disempowered as it is possible to be. Her husband Ian doesn’t have the tools to extricate her and the emergency services are going to take a good four hours to deliver her from the excruciating pain.

Helen Rutter portrays Clare in the most natural of lights, earning our sympathy with a truly eye-watering, scene-setting opening. She soon drops into a more philosophical mode, however, which allows her to draw wry comedy from the situation as the wait goes on and on – not to forget a delicious piece of physical comedy when her bladder can no longer hold out.

Rob Rouse, providing live musical backing from a comfy seat, plays Ian as a slightly shambolic but loveable husband and adds voices for various bit players in this household accident.

It’s a nicely honed script that rises above the level of extended anecdote, highlighting both the inconsequence of middle-class life and the reality of disempowerment, while providing a focus on Clare’s place at the heart of her family.

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Slight but amusing meditation on the nature of disempowerment