Zoo Southside (Studio), Edinburgh

Once in a while you stumble across a show at the Fringe that thrills you with its invention and sheer originality. Shine is just such a show – brought to the Fringe by From Start to Finnish, it’s a triumphant slice of immersive theatre. Indeed, my only criticism is that the title is deceptive, giving none of the flavour of this dark, powerful slice of psychological drama. Much of that power comes from its unusual staging.

As we take our seats in the studio theatre, we cannot fail to notice that a set of headphones is hooked over the back of every seat. We are instructed to put on the headphones. The lights dim and the drama begins.

This is a story about the disappearance of a little girl. The child’s parents, played by Olivier Leclair and Tiia-Mari Mäkinen are making love when she calls out to them in the night and they ignore her cries. The following morning, she is gone. When the official search is eventually called off, her father becomes obsessed with finding her – and his obsessive search leads him on a long, dark descent into madness…

If the story sounds familiar, the telling is anything but. Leclair and Makinen unfold their story through the medium of dance and mime, accompanied by an evocative soundtrack, every move they make perfectly synchonised to the sighs/screams/whispers that fill my ears. This has all the powerful intensity of a first-class ghost story. The hauntings are largely in the characters’ heads; nevertheless, there are scenes here that are incredibly chilling. This is a world where even an innocent piece of chalk can become an uncontrollable weapon, where the simple act of pouring a glass of water can take on a sinister subtext. I sit transfixed, completely involved right up to the (weirdly) uplifting conclusion.

There are just a few days left to check out this startling slice of theatre. The clock is ticking… listen… can you hear it?

Don’t worry, you will.

5 stars

Philip Caveney


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