‘Peer Gynt’ at the Fringe review – “a masterfully crafted production”

Ela Portnoy is enchanted by Gruffodg Theatre's adaptation of 'Peer Gynt' at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Set in a timeless world of trolls, princesses and flying deer, Peer Gynt tells the story of a young man’s adventure after he leaves home for the first time. Gruffdog Theatre’s adaptation of Ibsen’s classic uses physical theatre, music and puppetry with a minimalistic set to relate a tale of fantasy and intrigue.

I can’t fault the show’s execution because at its core it was a masterpiece. Gruffdog Theatre’s creativity in devising is unbelievable. Their ability to make  a cosy room out of people holding up towels and clocks around wooden beams, or a shipwreck out of lighting, beams, and movement, was simply stunning. Different media were used with skill and perfect coordination, and the actors were breath-taking to watch. The physical theatre was especially good. The ensemble worked together in extremely varied ways, and the execution was slick and professional. In general, the physicality injected the piece with an electric energy. This company’s magic lies in the creativity with which they use a mix of puppetry, music, movement, and props to craft a fantastic whole.

My only disappointment, despite the flawless execution, was that the play was pitched at a very safe level.

While the technical side of the play was undeniably incredible, the effect could have been enhanced on a greater scale. The storyline was also quite hard to follow in places, and leaving the theatre, I was annoyed at myself that I hadn’t been able to understand the point of the plot – I kept trying to piece together the strands and couldn’t make a thread.

Still, I can’t deny that Peer Gynt is an original piece of utter genius. I look forward immensely to seeing what Gruffdog Theatre create in the future. 3 stars.