Zoo Sanctuary, Pleasance, Edinburgh
Gruffdog Theatre’s Peer Gynt is a theatrical triumph: a joyous romp through Henrik Ibsen’s script, with a sprightly physicality that has us utterly enthralled.
Look, it’s the last day of the Fringe, and it’s all winding down. Everywhere we turn, we can see vans being loaded, posters being removed. Venues that just yesterday were pulsing with life now have their doors shut, their windows dark. We’re not sure we even want to see another show (we’ve seen a lot; we’re pretty sated). But a friend has recommended this play and it’s a now or never thing. So we pick up a pair of tickets and set off across town.
And we’ve definitely made the right decision; this is a glorious Fringe finale, chronicling the tale of the feckless Peer Gynt as he swaggers his way through life, leaving a trail of heartbroken women and abandoned children in his wake. The ensemble work is wonderful: a well-oiled machine with all the parts working in harmony. Literal harmony at times, as the whole piece is soundtracked a capella by the cast. It’s eerie and unearthly, and a little bit unsettling – just like the strange green eye make-up they all wear, and the funny little outfits, all identical.
The physical theatre is precise and well-crafted, performed with ease and poise. I especially like the shipwreck, which is beautifully done. The puppetry is excellent too – that troll! – and the multi-roling works a treat.
Sadly, you can’t see this in Edinburgh now, and Gruffdog Theatre’s website seems to indicate this is the end of their UK tour. But, if they revive it, I recommend this play whole-heartedly, and I for one will be checking carefully to see what they do next.