Jethro Compton's Frontier Trilogy: The Rattlesnake's Kiss

The Rattlesnake’s Kiss, part of Jethro Compton’s Frontier Trilogy, is an all-round masterclass in what theatre at the Fringe can be. It’s superbly written and wonderfully acted.

Every gesture, brush of a coat, raise of an eyebrow serves to drive the narrative forwards.

To call the play cinematic would be a disservice; set in 1866, in a small wooden chapel deep within the western frontier of America, it puts you right into the heart of the action. Depicting a showdown between an outlaw and a US marshal, the show takes many of the tropes of the genre and puts them to good use.

In the hands of another writer or director, such a narrative – following one man on a quest for revenge and one trying to put his life of crime behind him – could come across as cliché. Yet Jethro Compton uses these tropes to spin us a terse, violent tale, without ever having to fire a bullet.

Steeped in equal parts with tension and brilliant writing, it’s find a dull moment in The Rattlesnake’s Kiss. Every gesture, brush of a coat, raise of an eyebrow serves to drive the narrative forwards. The set itself is independently worthy of note, along with a beautiful lighting design that helps play with the show’s themes of sight, blindness and memory.

However none of this would be worth a jolt if the show didn’t have the acting to back it up. It would be wrong to single out any one of the production’s four actors, with Sam Donnelly, Chris Huntly-Turner, Jonathan Mathews and Bebe Sanders each giving engaging, raw, performances that keep your heart pounding throughout the show.

Reviews by Alexander Gillespie

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The Blurb

Hidden deep in the dust of the American West, the outlaw comes face to face with the lawman in search of justice. His life of murder is far behind, but can he ever escape the man he was born to become? Part of The Frontier Trilogy, the immersive experience from Jethro Compton, producer and director of the internationally-acclaimed, multi award-winning Bunker Trilogy. Journey into the Wild West in this triptych inspired by Biblical legend from the writer of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. 'Wonderful' (Stephen Fry). ***** (ThreeWeeks). ****(Telegraph).