Not much you see at the Edinburgh Fringe looks totally ready for London.  But this does – ideal for Park 90, Trafalgar Studios 2 or Hampstead Downstairs.

Dr Vanessa (Helen Vinten) is a stagily-written bluestocking as wedded to her work as Nicole Kidman’s character Rosemary Franklin in Photograph 51. Driven equally by the researcher’s need to be published and her abandonment issues over an absent parent, she seizes on an assignment from Nature to hunt down her dad’s academic legacy on the shore of Loch Ness.

This could be a far clumsier experiement if it weren’t for the confident realism projected by all three actors, the convincing laboratory setting and scientifically bogus ‘equipment’ they handle—the joky but effective plastic menagerie of dinosaurs used to represent unseen characters—but most of all for the perfected underscore of sound and original music devised by cast members.

Adam Farrell and David Ridley look like young clones of Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis and some of their dialogue and deliberately-feeble fish jokes could have come from similar Radio 4 stock, but once they take to the sound deck, the piece is transformed. Ridley links an Atari-style golf game to a synthesiser programme to produce the eeriest sounds of nature, and plays a haunting electric violin and a double-reed portable Indian harmonium. The effect is amazing, drawing the audience in and holding their attention completely.

Technically faultless, this is an object lesson in how to take a simple character-driven story and by sheer stagecraft to elevate it to another level of experience.

Definitely deserving of a life beyond the Fringe.



until August 28