On the lead up to Hallowe’en, two Edinburgh-based Theatre Companies, Lung Ha and Plutôt La Vie, have joined forces to bring a comically unsettling tale to the Festival Theatre Studio with An Unexpected Hiccup.
This World Première, that’s directed by Lung Ha’s Maria Oller and Plutôt La Vie’s Ian Cameron, whose real life experience was the catalyst for the play, sees Murdo, played by Tim Licata from Plutôt La Vie, stranded in the wilds in severe weather. By chance he finds a note in his pocket from a pal whose been told to call in anytime he’s passing by folks in the area. The big old house with its lights on, beautifully imagined by lighting designer Simon Wilkinson who also creates Murdo’s drookit misery with a snow capped brolly, looks like a beacon of homeliness and a possible haven for the night. Bravely, he chaps the door clutching his sodden second hand calling card, but the greeting he gets from the six inhabitants is not what he expected.
With a nod to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, who summons lawyer Jonathan Harker to his big scary house to arrange his affairs, the family thinks Murdo is a lawyer arriving to settle the estate of their dying father whose disturbing off stage presence is only identified by a hacking cough. Murdo’s first step over the threshold sets in train the comic confusion between the weary traveller and the five disparate McLennan family members and their servant Robert.
There is a line in the play about here being a fine line between the eccentric and the sinister that is overriding atmosphere of this darkly funny play that exposes a web of lies with the befuddled Murdo at the centre like a trapped fly.
An Unexpected Hiccup is performed with great physicality by the cast, who are thoroughly engaged in the peculiar proceedings as they appear and disappear through the six doors that are a crucial part of the set. The clever design, from Karen Tennent, who is one of Scotland’s leading artists in the field, allows the illusion of Murdo being traipsed through endless corridors by Thelma, played with great gusto by Emma McCaffrey who exudes terrific stage presence throughout.
Live music comes from BAFTA Scotland award winning composer Andrew Cruickshank on double bass, Leila Cruickshank on violin and Zain Cruickshank on keyboard melodica, who set the tone with an overture of a cheeky wee slow foxtrot that breaks into a bit of tiptoeing before accompanying the variety of songs that pepper Michael Duke’s witty and madcap narrative.
Bookended by another subtle nod to an old classic in the form of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, this is a seasonal treat that’s full of twists, surprises – and hiccoughs!
Running time: 70 minutes
Age recommendation: 12+
27th – 30th October 2021 7.30pm
Matinees Thursday 28th & Saturday 30th 2.30pm
Captioned performances Friday 29th @ 7.30pm and Saturday 30th @ 2.30pm