The Gilded Red Cage

I actually feel guilty about disliking this play so much. It’s about a blind Slovakian pianist abandoned in America by her jet-setting lover, her eyesight cured but her life stuck in a rut of dog-walking anomie. Taking the form of a tragic biography in monologue format, the basic material is clearly supposed to inspire feelings of pathos, sympathy and regret. I'm sorry to say that the only thing I regretted is that The Gilded Red Cage wasn't shorter, clocking in at a chunky hour-and-a-half – a long time in Edinburgh, especially for a piece which felt so flat, static and dramatically lifeless.Its last segment is a second monologue, delivered by the erstwhile boyfriend, which has something to do with the Velvet Revolution – a thick accent and halting delivery made it sadly difficult work out what else – and for what I can only hope were intentional dramatic reasons, the entire section is read from a printed script.The female actor is quite good, especially as English is not her first language, but it's a shame she had to appear in such a dull, dour play. Occasional stabs at humour are mostly stifled by the weight of glumness, a lack of vitality which functions as an Iron Curtain between the performance and its audience.It's all rather reminiscent of the stacks of misery memoirs you can buy in Tesco, called things like My Uncle, the Devil and There Was Never Any Toast For Jeremy. The tendency to look away from suffering is a sad human failing, but the tediousness of a narrative like this makes our basic inability to care a little more comprehensible. Which is a depressing thought.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

The Blurb

Sex, lies and communist red tape. Was the Czechoslovak Velvet Revolution for real? Find out in this riveting new performance by Slovak playwright Silvester Lavrik. Communism sucked the life out of them... can they survive capitalism?