The Young Pretender

3 Stars

***

In the space of an hour this play by E.V. Crowe gets to the heart of the character of Bonnie Prince Charlie. How did this young man of 24 years of age raised in Italy attract a following which almost captured the British Crown? The answer lies in his charisma and his total and infectious self-belief.

Paul Woodson in a dynamic performance reveals these characteristics. This is immediately brought out in the opening seconds as he bursts on stage, dressed in floral shirt and tight trousers in a kind of Mick Jagger like impersonation.

However his confidence can only take him so far. Lacking mature judgement and, indeed, luck, his determination to succeed turns to stupid stubbornness. This becomes apparent in his conversation with his faithful follower Donald (Chris Starkie) on the eve of the disastrous Battle of Culloden.

The second scene shows the defeated Prince in the croft house of Flora of ‘Skye Boat Song’ fame (strongly played by Rebecca Elise). Now humiliated, he has no answer to her constant mocking.

The final scene is unusual since it predates the events of the first two scenes. He is in conversation with Donald, exhorting him to join his cause. For me, this is the weakest of the three scenes since the writing did not bring out the thought processes in Donald’s mind as to why he should leave his family and put his life on the line by joining the rebellion. It was a scene that really called for a deeper examination of Donald’s character. The first scene had established Charlie’s personality but we never really get a full understanding of Donald.

Reviewed by Ben

Underbelly Cowgate/Belly Button; 61a

4 to 28 August 2011 (not 17)

16.40 – 17.40

Fringe Programme Page Number: 314

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