Bruised Sky Productions
Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh
Any trip to the Fringe is always too short. No matter how much time you have, there’s not enough time to see everything, not even enough time to see the must-sees. Time is the most precious commodity at Fringe.
That being so, you should make time for Victim. A sort of sequel to Villain, Bruised Sky’s much-praised offering from last year’s festival, it takes us into the women’s prison system and follows the battle of wills between a scheming prisoner, Siobhan, and officer Tracey, that unfolds after a notorious killer is brought into the prison.
The arrival of this new inmate creates a context for some serious manipulation, and with a script that is so forensically and ingeniously plotted, one could be forgiven for thinking that the writer is working from her own experience. The piece is the work of a man however, writer-director Martin Murphy, company Artistic Director. His attention to detail is impressive. Every beat of the story has about it a startling authenticity. It is a world we don’t see often in theatre, and yet every moment is slow motion car-crash compelling.
Louise Beresford plays both central characters, and she delivers a masterclass. Her acting is note-perfect, every gesture and every expression is instantly recognisable as one character or the other. It doesn’t hurt that she is immensely watchable as an actor: lithe and dynamic and hugely charismatic. She brings every moment of the story to life with an effortless truthfulness.
Were one to be pedantic, one could take issue with her accent as Siobhan: while she is stated to be a Wexford native, the accent does sometimes veer north to Dublin, even north of the Liffey into north Dublin. But it is a detail that isn’t likely to trouble an audience, and in any case, it’s not impossible that Siobhan was brought up in the Fair City. Beyond that, this reviewer was at a loss to find fault with her work.
The staging is as minimal as it gets: a single chair. Lighting and sound effects do the work of setting the scene, and actually it is all we need. With an actor of this ability, it would be needless to clutter the stage and the production with a hefty set, and with business. Murphy as director has enough sharpness of instinct to give the performance the space it needs.
Louise Beresford takes full advantage and lets rip with a performance of powerful and disturbing intensity. And we as audience members are the beneficiaries. The show is on daily at the Pleasance Courtyard at 2pm, and runs for an hour. Time at the Fringe is the most precious commodity, and this is an hour of theatre worth missing other shows for.