Tinderbox

Three activists meet underneath a bank to try to start a revolution. Planning to set off a "device" to destroy the electronics upstairs, they have a meticulous plan and are happy to trade their life for their cause. That is, before things take a turn for the unexpected. This piece of new writing (half comedy, half thriller) asks some really challenging questions about what lengths someone would - and should - go to make their point. Additionally, what kind of biscuit provisions are appropriate when you're carrying out an act that will probably be interpreted as terrorism?

The strength of the piece, other than the performances, is that it balances predominantly entertaining dialogue with surprising moments of tension and poignancy

This is Smoke and Oakum Theatre's second Fringe and Tinderbox comes to Edinburgh after previews at Theatre 503 in London. The script is strong, well-constructed and features engaging plot twists. There are some impressive moments of real dramatic tension, which were needed to heighten the severity of the situation beyond the otherwise lighthearted humour of the piece: almost immediately after receiving a completely unexpected, violent smack across the face, one character is offered a refreshing cup of Earl Grey. The strength of the piece, other than the performances, is that it balances predominantly entertaining dialogue with surprising moments of tension and poignancy so that we, very satisfyingly, really don't know what will happen next right up until the finale. It is a shame that these moments are not taken advantage of to their full potential. Billed as a black comedy, the script, though witty and generally spontaneous, provokes no more than a few chuckles from the audience.

The four actors of the company (all East 15 trained) give consistently strong performances, particularly James Barbour's revolutionary leader. He walked the line between menace and prophet well, and had a voice that I could listen to for hours. The characters feel fully formed, distinct and there are enough moments for us to empathise and learn about each of them.

The result is an enjoyable comic thriller, which was well delivered and genuinely surprising.

Reviews by Cara Ballingall

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Three activists meet beneath a bank intent on starting a revolution by bringing the business to its knees. Their high ideals of peaceful and international change, however, soon begin to be undermined. As the plan falls apart the group are further alarmed by the appearance of Mazzy, an employee of the bank they are beneath. Smoke and Oakum Theatre return to the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe with this black comedy.

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