Within the House of Shadows, there is an explanation for cultural popularity that I found rather endearing. A secret society of members visit a struggling author, blindfold him, and urge him to tell them a story. If he is successful, he is admitted into their cadre and is promised undying fame. As metaphors for the struggles of succeeding in the Edinburgh Fringe go, it takes some beating. But it was only one of the many ideas swirling around the House of Shadows. While not all of them are executed brilliantly, there are more than enough ideas here to keep you thinking.
The plot centres around writer Joseph Lambert, trying to write his great work in the ‘hot countries’. He pines after the mysterious Lucinda on the opposing balcony, while his very shadow longs for his freedom. As the play advances, his shadow begins to take on more of its very own personality. The play consists only of Lambert, and his shadow. Their physical intertwined interaction is impressive, with some snappy dialogue. In addition their speeches directly aimed to their audience are delivered with the right amount of flair. The script contains enough motifs and symbols to retain interest and the understated conclusion provides a sense of fulfilment and closure.
If there are problems with the play, it is that emotional highs are too quickly reached. By the third instance of Lambert pleading for something or other repetition already sets in. And some plot strands are left a little unclear, and extraneous to the plot itself. But, overall, the play is carried on the back of the performances and it more than excels in its mid-afternoon slot. At forty five minutes long it’s worth seeing as a pre-dinner aperitif.