Sunday, 20 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Penthouse at theSpace on Niddry St

Fast-paced, outrageous and addictive, Penthouse is all you need for a fun night out at the theatre. The exceptional acting and the recurrent use of loud rock music will drag you into the last wild night of a London banker on the edge of ruin.

Once considered the City's most promising banker, Ewan has suddenly lost his girlfriend and nearly 1.8 billion pounds of investors' money in illegal trades so, before ending it all, he decides to rent a penthouse and enjoy a booze-fuelled, cocaine-stuffed farewell party. There is a last-minute game-changer represented by Eloise, a hard-headed escort hired for the night, whose methodical approach to business appears like a handhold to the desperate Ewan. Until the very last minute, the audience is left on a cliff-hanger on whether she will manage to turn around his fate.

Playwright and actor Ed Brody, outlines four well-distinct – and mildly stereotypical – characters, brought alive by the outstanding performances of the whole cast. The speech is vivid, blunt and far from being politically correct. 

Taking on the main role of Ewan himself, Brody is superb, his dark circles and bloodshot eyes making me wonder when is the last time he had a good night sleep. Catherine Lamb as Eloise is gorgeous, quick-witted and capable of standing her ground in front of the rude prick Danny, performed by the fiery Dario Coates. Ryan Hutton is the simple-minded drug dealer Drew, whose interventions constitute the comedic backbone of the play.

A well-choreographed fast forward party scene is Kate Williams and Chris White's directorial highlight and the set is quite elaborate, for a Fringe Show where the turnaround of the venue is always against the clock. The penthouse with a view on the city is imaginatively devised as overlooking the audience. 

Despite hinting to serious personal issues, this is a relatively light-hearted play – more similar to a film than a full-fleshed drama – and, since theatre is also a form of entertainment, it can be easily enjoyed by a wide audience.

Review by Marianna Meloni

Rating: ★★★★
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