Dirty Protest's LAST CHRISTMAS by Matthew Bulgo has received a 5 star review in the Scotsman.
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***** (5 stars)
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre):
Last Christmas at Assembly George Square Studios (venue 17).
Reviewed by Martin Gray
Tom is having a crap day. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s going to miss the London to Swansea train. Clingy girlfriend Nat is following him into the loo. He can’t remember where he put the gifts she organised him into wrapping back in the summer…
So begins Matthew Bulgo’s one-man show which, while set at Christmas, is a tale for all seasons – and nothing to do with Wham!. Performed with such passion by Sion Pritchard that I assumed it was his own story, it held a full house rapt for its entire hour.
Pritchard is waiting on stage as the audience arrives, looking around, pensively. I took it that here was a nervous performer. Not so, this is a brilliant, assured actor; an expert in voice, movement and making a connection with the audience, setting up his character even before the monologue begins. There’s no scenery, there are no props, it’s just Pritchard standing before us, telling Tom’s story. He looks frazzled, his eyes evoke a trapped animal.
And that’s what Tom is. Nat is getting on his nerves, he doesn’t like his office colleagues, but he hates himself most of all, as he tells us in uncompromising language. He needs to get away. But going back to Swansea simply means he’s going to have to confront different demons, older ones.
It’s a tale of friends and lovers, fathers and sons. Tom is the everyman having a crisis of the soul, and Pritchard makes him utterly real. Not that this is an hour of angst – Bulgo gives us plenty of laughs, especially in a sequence around Tom’s office party. Probably most of us know a middle management wannabe such as Suze, or a would-be cool kid like Jamie, and their dealings with Tom – a film studies graduate who’d rather be directing movies – make for great comedy.
As the drama – directed with economy and assurance by Kate Wasserberg – goes on, though, things become more intimate. Pritchard draws us in beside him so that when the denouement comes, it’s a moment of catharsis for the entire audience.
There’s a real humanity to Last Christmas, a truth in the writing and playing that makes it one of the best things on the Fringe this year. Don’t miss it.
Until 25 August. Tomorrow noon, more info
Originally published in The Scotsman
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