Brett Herriot Review

Touching the Void, The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Touching the Void, 

***** 5 Stars

“The most triumphant,  Intense and Thrilling Theatre production to Grace the stage”

In 2003 a docudrama film based on the biography of mountain climber Joe Simpson reached critical and public acclaim, its story of human survival pushed to the ultimate limit and the life and death decision many of us will never have to make seared its way into the public consciousness. It was always deemed to be unstageable as a stage play, until now and what truly magnificent piece of stage craft it is.

Lyceum Artistic Director David Greig has taken on the challenge of adapting the book into a stage play and he has delivered an edge of your seat experience that takes you right inside the mind of Joe, played with consummate conviction by Josh Williams. Williams performance is the centre of the story, taking the audience beyond the physical endurance that would stun a mere mortal man, to right inside the mind set of Joe Simpson and what truly pushed him to survive against apparently un-survivable odds.

Joining Williams in the cast also delivering nothing less than award winning performances are Patrick McNamee as Richard, Richard Hawking was on the mountain that night taking care of base camp and was unaware of events until Simon Yates , played by the sublime Edward Hayter returns to base camp. Hayter’s performance is truly gifted as he stands high above the lyceum stage on the edge of the cliff as a snow storm blows through, it is he who must decide to cut the rope connecting him to Williams, his ability to express the agony of the decision is breath taking. Rounding out the cast is a composite character “Sarah” performed by Fiona Hampton . Sarah floats for apparently reality to a dream figure with Joe Simpson mind driving him ever forward to survive and reach base camp despite the extreme pain, fatigue he is enduring.

Director Tom Morris has truly delivered the most triumphant, intense and thrilling theatre production to grace the stage thanks not only to his stellar cast and the incredible writing of Grieg but also the gifted production team of Designer Ti Green alongside Lighting Design of Chris Davey and Composer and Sound Designer Jon Nicholls. Together they have made it possible travel from the heart of Edinburgh to the Snow Strom swept  mountain tops of the Peruvian Andes and allowed audiences to experience an unforgettable journey the searches the very soul of humanity and forces us to ask ourselves what we would do to survive above all else and fight for the very right to draw breath.

The Lyceum prides itself on delivering theatre that engages and challenges the audience and under David Grieg’s tenure and working in collaboration with the Bristol Old Vic, Royal & Derngate and Fuel, they continue to push the boundaries of what can physically be achieved and for that they should be justly applauded.

I implore you to do what you can to grab a ticket and take a seat in the splendour of the Lyceum’s auditorium then be transported to the far-flung mountain tops of Peru and then ask yourself would you survive when faced with Touching the void?

Theatre doesn’t come any better, more powerful, engaging and just sheer brilliant than this production and long may it Transend the art form.

The Lyceum, Bristol Old Vic, Royal & Derngate Northampton, and Fuel presents “Touching the Void”, The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh runs until 16th February for tickets go to: https://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on/production/touching-the-void

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