The Space on North Bridge, Edinburgh
NKP Theatre Company’s A Librarian is proof indeed that it’s often worth deviating from the beaten track when selecting which Fringe shows to see. The sheer volume of what’s on offer can be overwhelming, and it’s not hard to understand why so many people stick to the familiar, to what they know. When time (and money) is short, taking a risk is unappealing. But then you see what an amateur company can bring to a small venue for a limited run – and remember what the Fringe is all about.
The success of this piece owes a lot to an impressive central performance by Ruth Cattell: she brings lonely librarian Anne Poole convincingly to life, ensuring our sympathy for the unlucky woman, whose life is changed irrevocably when she witnesses a minor car accident. The characterisation here is excellent – a fully realised depiction of a vulnerable person.
In fact, this might actually work better as a monologue: although the supporting actors are all perfectly good, there isn’t much for them to do, and using the split in the backdrop for entrances and exits makes the stage traffic a little messy. There’s also perhaps too much exposition in the denouement: there’s a neat twist here, but it’s over-explained, and thus loses some of its initial impact.
But these are quibbles: this is an engaging, idiosyncratic play, and most enjoyable to watch. Definitely worth forty-five minutes of anybody’s time.