Fringe review: Velvet Scratch

Oh, the smell of fresh strawberries…

Ravens, bloody hearts, undead, the underworld. Edgar Allan Poe and Tim Burton seem to have paid a brief visit to the Theatre Lab in London. Theatre Lab Company’s latest production is a quirky and macabre piece of simple storytelling, set in an evocative underworld populated by three characters that, over the course of the performance, unravel the tale of their own demise and death.

Accompanied only by a live acoustic guitar, punctuating and subtly underscoring the text, we are introduced to the underworld through the narrator’s cry for the tastes of life – of blood – visually symbolized by (lovely smelling) strawberries being crushed in her hands. The strawberries will return…

Having established the life of the dead, the actors proceed to introduce us to the port town whence they came. We are treated to a local rogue’s gallery and their stories, played with imagination and visual flair. A through line begins to emerge as aspects of these stories converge and keep returning to “the big day” and Edgar (“my Edgar” as our narrator refers to him) the mayor.

While the three actors are admirable in their attempt to populate a whole town, in presentation they are somewhat inconsistent. Unfortunately the male characters are far too similar to one another (captain, garbage man, father, cook) and the ensemble play is not as precise as it could be. Bruno the cook’s ‘song’ needed to be more comic or more musical but unfortunately fell somewhere in between. Likewise, the physicality of Velvet Scratch fell somewhat short of its promise.

These, however, are not major stumbling blocks, as the rich visual imagery and strength of the cleverly varied little stories carry us toward the seemingly inevitable tragic end of the main story. Of particular note are the stories of Graciella (sp?) and her father and Theodore the captain. The poignancy, tenderness and sorrow which the main story is elegantly and ironically told and played would be ruined if I described it here. It’s worth it. Oh, the smell of fresh strawberries…

(Note: apologies for not mentioning actors and characters by name, but without a program, this is difficult to do – I will happily revise this review later with more information. A.B.)

Theatre Lab Company
Velvet Scratch
Divadlo Nablizko, until 3.6, 23:00

Review by Amiel Bruch

Ristorante Casa de Carli

Authentic Italian cuisine in Prague

The James Joyce Irish Pub

Best Irish Pub in Prague

Charles Bridge Museum

Discover the history of Prague’s famous Charles Bridge

Trabant Museum Prague

Trabant Museum @ STK Motol

Army Museum Žižkov

Armádní muzeum Žižkov

National Memorial to the...

Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády

Prague’s # 1 source for Czech news in English…

Digital lifestyle magazine platform promoting life in Prague.