Edinburgh Festival: Bygone (3 stars)

Don’t kill yourself clambering over the set when you take your seat for this new show by Caligula’s Alibi, makers of last year’s The Sidcup Family Portrait.

A “mahogany jungle” of furniture, tins of pineapple and everything in between spills from the stage. Tynan and Brandy, the characters who inhabit this esoteric bombsite, are equally ramshackle, flailing about in clothing that includes a cravat and a single sock.

They spend their days re-enacting one another’s memories and trying to make sense of the senseless. It’s not unusual for “critters” to invade and being dead needn’t be a barrier to falling through a wall.

Writer and performer Jonnie Bayfield’s script is both rich and relentless, full of surreal juxtapositions that are part Withnail and I, part Alice in Wonderland. It’s both the piece’s greatest strength and its biggest weakness.

Bayfield and his co-star Russell Chadwick are clearly having a great time – but nothing of any consequence really happens.

In tackling “love, existence and humanity,” the need for a satisfying story appears to have been forgotten. Some of the ideas and one-liners are brilliant but more than this is needed to sustain a play. As a blast of something wild, fresh and frantic, however, it certainly delivers.

Written for The Scotsman

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