Edinburgh Review: Raymondo, Summerhall

raymondoRaymondo is a proper story. Like one you’d actually make up, with larger-than-life characters, in a weird and wicked world, battling it out for love and happiness. Annie Siddons’s quirky storytelling is an absolute joy.

Raymondo and his little brother Sparky escape from their imprisonment at the hands of their uncaring, bourgeois mother, only to be plunged into a terrifying and grotesque fantasy world. They’re taken under the maternal wings of a plump café-owner-come-milliner and her pretty daughter, but are quickly estranged from their care and are in danger again.

Siddons’s world is bursting with imagination, boasting wonderfully distorted characters and environments, as Raymondo and Sparky are thrown from curiosity shop to sweat-shop. However off-the-wall, ­­­Siddons’s ideas are always insightful and inclusive, such as the ‘Cape of OK’, which Raymondo fashions from pigeon feathers and fervour, and which emboldens the wearer amidst his scary environs.

Siddons’s performance style gels wonderfully with this story – she’s captivating and sensitive to the texture of her prose, which imbues the piece with soulful lyricism. She’s also got a fantastic sense of bathos, and often undercuts the zany fantasy of the world with unexpected bumps back to earth, incongruous juxtapositions of the fantastical and the prosaic. This prevents the story from ever becoming too saccharine; for every few twinkles, there’s a good thump.

The set, at first a charming but generic collection of lamps and Persian rugs, comes to really add to the performance – it provides a surprising amount of flexibility with different lighting states and moods, and can instantly evoke the character of a new environment. This is to the credit of lighting designer Andy Purves, who has done an excellent job of sustaining the momentum of the story though his visual decisions.

All this is topped off by Daniel Green’s electric guitar accompaniment: which, like the lighting, supports the shifting atmosphere of the playworld. This is, on all fronts, a captivating and superbly composed little show, full of wonder and invention.

Raymondo is at Summerhall (Venue 25) until 24 August. For more information and tickets, visit https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/raymondo