Some shows gain a lot from their venues. Reaper Review is performed in the bowels of Edinburgh, practically underground. The play’s setting is the underworld. It’s very appropriate and quite atmospheric.
A Grim Reaper’s innocent mistake has had catastrophic consequences – and so a demon has been summoned from head office to carry out a performance review. It’s a neat concept for a play, one that allows for unfolding drama as more and more details of the case are revealed to the audience, but also for a minimum of settings and characters – and for easy exposition.
Visually Reaper Review is simple, but striking. The web of documents and photos that makes up the backdrop is a compelling image. Little details like the manager’s rope tie and the click of the demon’s ‘hooves’ go a long way to create a sense of the underworld setting.
The comedy is strong – it certainly kept the audience laughing – though it does feel slightly like an elongated comedy sketch. Both dialogue and acting are, unfortunately, a little rough around the edges at times. It’s a play that could use some smoothing out.
Reaper Review seems throughout to be very secure in its own wittiness. It delights in dropping in details of afterlife bureaucracy – ‘third-level death engineer’ – all of which is well thought-out and entertaining, but not the most original. ‘The afterlife is a bureaucracy’ crops up on ‘Strange Horizons’ list of all-too-common SF tropes.
Wrinkles aside, Reaper Review is an enjoyable and skilfully executed bit of theatre, with some memorable characters and some good comedy – and quite different from most Fringe shows. Good fun.
Reaper Review is a Never Heard of It production on at 1:45 every day until Sunday 25th at The Cowgatehead, as part of the PBH Free Fringe.