Edinburgh 2013: Dark Vanilla Jungle - Philip Ridley's latest meditation on misery starring Game of Thrones' Gemma Whelan


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The Independent Culture

One of these days, pigs might fly and Philip Ridley will write a play full of joy, laughter and sparkling merriment. Meanwhile, he follows the dark and murky byways of lives that have gone lyrically wrong in language that lacerates any vestigial sense of well-being and “all’s right with the world” in an audience.

His latest report of misery on the dysfunctional front line is the confessional, hysterical testimony of Andrea who, abandoned by her own parents in Croydon and abducted as a schoolgirl sex slave, throws herself at a wounded soldier and loses her baby in a dark and dangerous forest.

What makes the story so riveting – as well as deeply depressing – is the extraordinary performance of Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy in Games of Thrones on television), who yammers away for 75 minutes without drawing breath or dropping a syllable.

She plays the audience on three sides like an incantatory harpy, pleading for attention, unravelling her story in an explanatory yowl, as if addressing a convention of doctors and psychoanalysts.

The disastrous parents, the pick up at the party, the drugged sex orgy, the discovery of her pimping boyfriend’s family, the assault on the soldier in a hospital; all is despatched in vivid and audacious detail. This is an all too familiar case history of a young girl with nothing to give but love and nowhere to find it.

To 26 Aug (0131 556 6550)