The Wheel

The National Theatre of Scotland has one of the most recognisable names at the Fringe. This position puts a heavily critical eye over every show they bring to the festival. One of their plays this year, The Wheel, has brilliant elements throughout the show. Unfortunately, despite these excellent moments of saving grace, this production is close to impenetrable. The plot follows a woman who attempts to take a child, abandoned by its exiled father who is fated to be ripped apart by the army in a dystopian 19th Century Spain, back to its father. Time progresses liquidly and the woman takes on more children while attempting to track down the little girl’s father. During this time it emerges that the little girl has the ability to perform miracles. The story is entirely based around this journey. Herein a colourful cast of characters is introduced to us, from a travelling, drifting bug collector to a doctor’s wife dressed in a kimono. The characters are extremely well-acted and directed and bring out an interesting progression. On top of this the set is wonderful. The action takes place on two levels of what looks like the remains of a destroyed skyscraper.These points, however, are not enough to save this show. The script seems lost. The progression of the plot is enough to baffle even the most seasoned theatre-goer. Even worse is the heavy handed way that the production has used costume to make sure that there is no setting for this show. The idea is interesting but the costumes and setting move to First World War from Spanish civil war with no explanation. The miracle abilities of the girl are badly explained. There were also certain symbols that were baffling. The entire cast was obsessed with eating apricots. Towards the end of the show there was a moment that felt like the equivalent of a waking up and everything being a dream. This is simply not good storytelling.The Wheel is a decent show but the sheer amount of brain power you need to even try to understand it is bound to give you a headache.

The Blurb

National Theatre of Scotland presents this new play by award-winning writer Zinnie Harris. Directed by Vicky Featherston, this play asks whether it is possible to travel through a world in conflict and remain unaffected.