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The Studio, Edinburgh

The End of Eddy is a coming of age, autobiographical gay narrative written by the French author Edouard Louis and adapted for the stage by Pamela Carter.

It recounts the experiences of growing up in a small, semi-rural town in the middle of nowhere (actually it’s Picardy, in the north of France – but Laing’s production allows us to feel that it could be anywhere). “Eddy” – who later changed his name to Edouard – writes of being doubly oppressed as a working-class gay man, and of the complexity of growing up under these circumstances, as his father and school mates put a premium on open displays of masculinity.

Laing’s production has a vaguely post-dramatic feel, with a minimal, semi-industrial-feeling set designed by Hyemi Shin consisting of four screens and a bus shelter. The dramaturgy is similarly pared back: its mechanics are exposed as Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills describe decisions made in the process of developing the play, and the whole thing is narrated in a relaxed, conversational manner that really draws us into the world of the play.

Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills offer some engaging performances: they multi-role, playing satellite characters that appear on the screens. I have niggling doubts about actors interacting with prerecorded footage – it sacrifices the connection between the speaking parts, and the friction that comes from live dialogue. But it is done sufficiently well here that it doesn’t seem like a major issue. Some of the peripheral characters felt a little bit too close to stereotype for me, but this is a production that otherwise felt refreshingly unperformative and honest.

Some beautiful scenes, and sensitive handling of formative sexual experiences, and of the anxieties that arise from a pressure to conform.

  • Drama
  • Based on the book by Edouard Louis, adapted by Pamela Carter
  • Directed by Stuart Laing
  • Cast includes: Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills
  • The Studio, Edinburgh
  • Until 26th August 2018

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