Edinburgh Fringe Review: The Gambler

In the velvet dark of a smoky underworld, the gambler emerges broke and desperate. A fin de siècle world of moody colours and heavy vice, the gambler stands in the relentless endgame of the dangerous gamble he has played with his own life. No longer the restrained gentleman his father lectured him to be, the gambler, in his cracked rasping tones, recounts the rolls of the dice that have determined the journey towards his demise.

In a bid to accurately capture the cycles, the switches and the struggles of the gambling world, Theatre Re looked deep into both literature and reality for insight. Having consulted with former gambling addicts in North London and probed into the likes of Pushkin, Dostoyevsky and Stefan Zweig, Theatre Re presents a darkly truthful depiction of the gambling figure, forever hanging on the next windfall.

Blending together mime, theatre and spellbinding physical theatre, The Gambler has a gorgeous aesthetic quality that enchants the audience. Accompanied by an exquisite score played by its composer, Alex Judd, The Gambler has the feel of an aged French black and white film with a headily evocative atmosphere flickering between shadows of moments. The rippling rhythms of the music matched with the astonishing fluidity and polish of the choreography bottled a sad yet beautiful mood that removed the audience completely to another time, place and life.

Whilst straightforward in its intentions and narrative plot, within the production The Gambler is at times played like a game of chess: intelligently planned, sometimes unpredictable and with the odd sudden and astonishing game change. The switching of characters also added all the horror of the haunting doppelganger that accurately pinpointed the disturbed split of the gambler’s strategies.

Although the acting was at times underwhelming when matched to the talent of the physical theatre and music, The Gambler is a dynamic and powerfully intense production that is well worth the gamble to go and see.

****- 4/5 stars

The Gambler is at Pleasance Dome until August 26th (not 13th) as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.

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