Edinburgh Festival: The Bridge That Tom Built (3 stars)

With many of Belt Up’s original members spending more time behind the scenes, it’s a pleasure to see one of them back on stage: the captivating and versatile Dominic Allen. In his rip-roaring one-man show, he charts the adventures of the 18th-century political activist, Thomas Paine.
From the American War of Independence to the French Revolution, Paine seems to have been at the heart of every major upheaval of the day. And yet, the thing he really wanted to do was build the world’s first iron bridge.
Imaginatively directed by Joe Hufton, with some great uses of sound, Allen’s playful performance, taking in numerous characters, thrillingly evokes an era of men in breeches, oil lamp-lit rooms and the excitement of the masses overthrowing their rulers.
With much unrest in our current world, there are interesting parallels to be drawn. But fundamentally this is a play about one man and his life – a snapshot of him and his times, skilfully evoked by a warm and engaging performer. Hopefully, we will be seeing him back on stage more often, along with the rest of his former co-stars.

Written for The Scotsman

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