The Prisoner

In a stirring hour, his scalp is bloodied, his flesh is scalded and in a motion that toys with slapstick, his ribs are smashed with a black mallet

★★★
archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 1 minute
33330 large
121329 original
Published 04 Aug 2007
33329 large
100487 original
Exploring the problems of artistic freedom within a totalitarian regime, The Prisoner offers an interrogation of personal relationships and torture in times of social disintegration. Tobias, a composer, finds himself incarcerated charged with writing 'subversive' music. In a stirring hour, his scalp is bloodied, his flesh is scalded and in a motion that toys with slapstick, his ribs are smashed with a black mallet.

Tobias suffers mentally as well as physically. That we must witness every step of his degradation is rather too much the focus. Writer and director Nick Lawrence seems so keen to make a martyr of the suffering artist that he misses out on some of the other questions his narrative raises. The play is too eager to sermonise on the function of art and thereby sets the limits of its own investigation. This is a coherent show, but it lacks some of the intellectual muscle it sorely needs.