Fringe Review: The Probe...

Catch this one: 'Wow' is the word from Sile Ni Bhroin and Amiel Bruch

“This is a story about deception and betrayal.” And so much more. This fast, sharp and stylish performance contains almost too much for one sitting. With text compiled from the writings, interviews and films of Orson Welles, The Probe plunges us into a dark and dangerous noir world. If you come with expectations of a story of Welles the anti-establishment hero banished by the studio Czars, you will leave with a far richer and more complicated – even confused – picture of Welles’ dramatic rise and fall in Hollywood.

The many delightful twists and turns of this show, portrayed with outstanding physical precision and flair, provide the audience with a whirlwind of intense theatrical moments. To describe them in any detail would spoil the pleasure; you are unlikely to see a more highly-charged, accomplished performance at this year’s Fringe.

It is as well, perhaps, that the visual moments in particular are so stunning. The breadth of the story is vast and for anyone with only limited knowledge of Orson Welles’ life and work, the show is occasionally very confusing. It requires a leap of faith on the part of the audience – faith that this company of actors will get you out of the mess they have got you into. And they do.

Using only six briefcases, a pistol and chairs, the ensemble vividly recreates episodes from Welles’ life and work – from War of the Worlds through to the death of his studio career (brilliantly staged as a murder trial). Seamlessly moving from private to public, from his lover to his lawyer, the show rarely loses pace or punch. The mock Busby Berkeley number is unforgettable.

Directed and performed with assurance and panache, The Probe is demanding of its audience but rewards them generously with an extraordinary theatrical story made more poignant by the beautifully timed and delivered comedy. Superb costumes, evocative projections (fantastic use of film stills) and great musical choices… Wow!

The Probe: An Inquiry into the Meteoric Rise and Spectacular Fall of Orson Welles in Hollywood
HotCity Theatre Co and Theatre Belle Bete
Divadlo na Pradle, until 3.6, 22:30

Review by Sile Ni Bhroin and Amiel Bruch

Video on YouTube

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