Alphonse by Wajdi Mouawad

Watching Alphonse is like taking a trip to the cinema. There’s a slew of undeveloped characters, an indecipherable plot and popcorn everywhere. In fact the whole show is reminiscent of watching Donnie Darko. The nonsensical story cuts manically between scenes and characters, with Alon Nashman schizophrenically playing the entire cast, including the Darko-tinged Alphonse. Alphonse, incidentally, is a boy who goes missing, much to the consternation of friends and family. If you’re interested in finding out what happens to our protagonist, don’t go and see this show for you’re unlikely to leave any the wiser.The best thing about the cinema is that when you lose interest in the action, you can always catch some zees in the back row. In theatre however it’s apparently considered bad form to do so. Nevertheless, there’s something distinctly soporific about Alphonse, so much so that five minutes into the production, I found myself wishing that the missing kid would show up dead in a ditch so we could all go home. Somehow, I made it through to the middle, whereupon a deluge of popcorn landed on Nashman’s head, simultaneously bringing me back to my senses. While my comprehension of the second half was equally non-existent, at least I was able to watch it with both eyes open and a head that wasn’t nodding like a Churchill dog. What’s logic got to do with it anyway? Donnie Darko didn’t always make sense but it was a great film. While Alphonse doesn’t reach those heady heights, Nashman is nevertheless excellent in his multi-faceted role. There’s method acting in the madness, and what’s more it’s extremely accomplished. It’s just a shame that the story is lost on lethargic Fringe reviewers. Amidst all the weirdness, there’s something very special going on in there. If only I knew what it was.

The Blurb

Oscar-nominee Mouawad, Canada's most acclaimed contemporary playwright and multi award-winning actor Alon Nashman, bring their hit production to Edinburgh. ‘A runaway theatrical success’ **** (Globe and Mail, Canada), ‘Unmissable show of genius for all ages’ ***** (BBC).