Theatre of the Damned, known for their particular kind of horror theatre, present As Ye Sow, written by Stewart Pringle and directed by Tom Richards. Set in an old people’s home, Clifford (Jeffrey Mayhew) snoozes in his chair; a man of fragile mind with a past that haunts him. He is visited by his daughter Susan (played by the excellent Scarlet Sweeney) who, we discover through the course of their conversation, 8 years ago lost her mother, now presumed dead. Clifford, in his moments of lucidity, questions if the police are still looking for her, the disappearance having never quite been explained.
With moments of jumpiness and a slight whodunit plot, Pringle’s text struggles to find the real mystery behind the characters he’s written. Perhaps Richards’ direction doesn’t make use of the cast enough to really create the suspense suggested by the writing, which is a shame, given Theatre of the Damned’s reputation. As Ye Sow offers less a fright than a simplistic narrative, with little drama.
The plot – while suggesting a darker affair at play, and with some nice effects through sound and video – never quite manages to get the audience engrossed. Expectations are perhaps high for a company that prides itself on terrifying nights of theatre.
There are the beginnings of some disturbing notions through the presence of John Garfield Roberts’ character of the electrician, who interrogates Clifford or appears suddenly, wielding menacing power tools. Whilst the ending is unexpected and cleverly achieved through Alice Saville’s design, as a whole, As Ye Sow never quite manages to take off, let alone seep into the audience’s nerves.
** – 2/5 Stars
As Ye Sow is playing at the Pleasance Dome as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27th August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.