Fall, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Festival

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The Independent Culture

With her new play Fall, Zinnie Harris reaches the end of a trilogy examining the transforming effects of war. It's a rich topic and full of hidden depths. So hidden that in Fall it's sometimes impossible to figure out whether Harris has not, in fact, gone into freefall. It begins promisingly as a young woman (pluckily played by Geraldine Alexander) recalls the night she and her husband were caught up helping a friend who had driven over a man.

Next the woman, now a widow, is in the cell of a war criminal, trying to piece together her husband's life. From there we move to the residence of a puppet president manipulated by the iron-fisted politicos of a new regime. Events move fast for him and his wife (a sturdy performance from Meg Fraser) as the noose tightens around the necks of the war criminals waiting to hear whether or not they will die to satisfy the public's need for revenge. As relationships founder and the political and emotional temperature rises, there's a kind of denouement in a scene of death by drowning.

Dominic Hill's production is as granite-like as Tom Piper's grey-clad set. There is some concentrated acting from the seven-strong cast, but the convoluted downward spiral of miserable events makes for unrelieved gloominess. In the end one simply stops caring, a crime in itself.

To 24 August, except 11 & 18 (0131-228 1404)

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