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Theatre Review: The Devil's Larder ****

Michael Cox reviews a production that's 'an experience filled with moments to be relished'.

The Devil’s Larder is described as ‘a site-responsive adaptation’ of Jim Crace’s novel, a collection of short stories all centred on the subject and theme of food. The production takes over a dozen of the original 64 stories and brings them to life, mostly to impressive effect.

Ben Harrison’s production is extremely well executed, finding inventive ways of using the performance space and theatrically animating complicated moments. It is well designed and sharply directed. The production, which is touring Scotland, will be performed in different venues and will have the dramatic action specifically tailored. In Leith, it is being performed at the Customs House and consists of 14 scenes.

The stories themselves are a bit hit-and-miss, with some resonating better than others. No story overstays its welcome, but at ten minutes apiece some feel either overstuffed or under-seasoned. Only a handful of moments feel like a nutritious meal rather than a mere tasty morsel.

What does consistently impress is the performance of its ensemble: four actors and two musicians who play a large company of characters, many of whom are only on stage for a couple of moments but manage to linger in the memory long after the final curtain. Each actor has at least two standout moments, and the musicians add dramatic texture (and occasionally play supporting roles).

More of a hodgepodge than an overall story, The Devil’s Larder is an experience filled with moments to be relished, even if some of the stories could use a little more sustenance.

On tour until November 15, 2015. For details check Grid Iron’s website.

Tags: theatre

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