Beckman Unicorn presents Darktales, an accomplished piece of storytelling, which seamlessly weaves together stories while skillfully managing to subvert and play with its audience’s expectations until the very end.
If horror is your thing, this is a must-watch for this year’s Fringe
To be a true horror tale, a good control of suspense is certainly helpful, and Beckman Unicorn has certainly mastered that. The tale is brought together by the storytelling abilities of Alex Crowley and Sean Ward, with some technical aid setting the scene, which is predominantly spooky, with some effective sound and lighting. We are in a dilapidated study where Burke and Hare are rumoured to have dissected dead bodies (“though they say that about every place in Edinburgh”), where the tension between two men, a professor and a former student, works itself out over the course of several macabre stories, revealing only at the climax the real reasons that they are there. Particularly effective is Lucy, the woman who lurks as a disembodied voice offstage and onstage in memories that are part of the action, and who seems tied up in the struggle between these characters - though motives are carefully concealed. There are several twists and turns to this Poe-like tale but it succeeds in keeping its audience guessing until the last moment. Suffice to say, there’s obsession, mysterious relationships, writers’ pride and photographs of dead Victorians to deal with.
This show was performed at the Fringe twenty-one years ago and caused a sensation at the time; today’s updated performance is designed to elicit a few gasps and shocks as well, though they don’t miss out on the chance to get a bit of humour in. If horror is your thing, this is a must-watch for this year’s Fringe. For those less keen on the genre, this is a well-scripted and well-acted production, though all of the issues raised are directed towards the twists and turns of the ending. Either way, it’s worth a watch.