Coming Up For Air, Assembly@George Street, Edinburgh
Friday 15 August 2008
You can't avoid the heady whiff of nostalgia in Dominic Cavendish's sensitive adaptation of George Orwell's Coming up for Air. In the novel, Orwell not only predicted the start of the Second World War but also glimpsed the life and society that would follow.
The central figure George Bowling is not a particularly likeable chap, a flabby insurance salesman who would rather spend a small windfall on new false teeth than on his joyless wife Hilda. The comic actor Hal Cruttenden gives a rounded portrayal of Bowling's midlife crisis, which sends him off for a weekend down memory lane triggered by the biblical character of Og, king of Bashan. Cruttenden's Bowling is boyishly aquiver at the prospect of recapturing glory days in his childhood stamping ground of Lower Binfield, only to find utter disillusion.
Cavendish's elisions leave the story remarkably intact and his faithfulness to Orwell, and Cruttenden's perceptive characterisation, puts the novel in a fresh light. Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm may occupy the higher intellectual ground but, at least when portrayed so truthfully as in Gene David Kirk's unobtrusive production, Coming up for Air reveals an emotional heart. Here the past becomes a foreign land in which to travel hopefully is infinitely better than to arrive.
To 25 August (0131-623 3030)
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This is what happens when you tattoo Charmander on yourself, drunk, and with no experience
- 2 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a white stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'