Life According to Saki

  • Comedy
  • Written by Katherine Rundell, after Saki
  • Directed by Jessica Lazar
  • Cast includes David Paisley, Eddie Arnold, Phoebe Frances Brown, Ellen Francis, Tom Lambert and Caitlin Thorburn
  • C Venues, Edinburgh
  • Until 29th August 2016
  • Review by Luke Davies
  • 28 August 2016
Life According to Saki
5.0Reviewer's Rating

Hector H. Munro – otherwise known as Saki – was a late nineteenth century short story writer famous during his lifetime for his whimsical but often mordant satires of Edwardian society.

This new dramatisation by the author Katherine Rundell frames a selection of his stories around his experiences in the trenches during the First World War in the moments leading up to his death. It’s a smart move, giving the piece a clear narrative arc (when it could easily feel like a series of disconnected stories), whilst also highlighting the absurdity and melancholy of Saki’s text. The folly and repressed violence that subtly underwrite the stories acquire a whole new level of meaning as we’re reminded that the society that they reflect found its ultimate expression in war.

Jessica Lazar’s production is visually rich – incorporating shadow puppetry, physical theatre and puppetry. It’s all beautifully executed: simple visual touches bringing the stories to life, and an ensemble of six who make a verbally complex text accessible and engaging. The surreal elements of Saki’s stories are brought to the fore: a personal highlight being the Sredni Vashtar story – a strange, rhythmic and phantasmagorical detour into the life of a ferret-worshipping ten year old.

It’s great that Atticist Productions have drawn attention to these neglected texts – Saki’s stories maybe even compete with Anton Chekhov’s for their imaginative brilliance and astute character observation. And this production does them a great service. Brilliant stuff.


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