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Conspiracy review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘intriguing and playful’

The cast of Conspiracy at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: Richard Davenport

Three people sit at a desk in front of a blown-up version of the iconic, depression-era photograph Lunch Atop a Skyscraper. Something about the image troubles them. The clouds don’t look right. Why are only some of them eating? Could the picture have been rigged or doctored? And, if so, why? What were they trying to cover up?

Over the course of Barrel Organ’s new show, Rose Wardlaw, Azan Ahmed and Shannon Hayes spin increasingly complex conspiracy theories about everyone and everything from John D Rockefeller to the moon landings and Elvis, up to and including Princess Diana.

They become increasingly frustrated and hostile with one another, to the point they end up wrestling on the floor.

Dan Hutton’s production, co-created by the company and working from a text by Jack Perkins, is as intriguing as it is slippery, as playful as it is frustrating.

The search for truth, the temptation to believe in shadowy systems, the way in which plausible theories can mushroom into the fantastical. This is all touched upon in a show that (thankfully) resists easy pigeonholing.

The dynamic between the performers is as interesting as the material. Wardlaw’s increasing exasperation, her too-wide-eyed volatility, is captivating.

The final reveal, delivered by Rosie Elnie’s set, is a carefully composed, teasing, cheeky coda. It’s almost as if this was their plan all along.

IvankaPlay review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘cartoonish and lacking in insight’

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Barrel Organ’s new show is a slippery piece about the elusiveness of truth