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posted/updated: 31 Jul 2016 -
Luna Park
Donald Margulies. Produced by StoneCrabs Theatre Company
society/company: Edinburgh Festival Fringe (directory)
performance date: 29 Jul 2016
venue: London preview ahead of ZOO Southside at Edinburgh Fringe
reviewer/s: Chris Abbott (Sardines review)

StoneCrabs Theatre Company’s production of Luna Park has a cast of three and is written by Donald Margulies, the US playwright best known for Dinner with Friends. Luna Park was his first play put on in New York and is an adaptation of a short story by Delmore Schwartz from 1937 about an immigrant family in New York during the years of the Depression.

Luna Park was one of the main funfairs on Coney Island, and a visit to the fair is the background to a crucial section of the play. The central couple, played by Eugenia Caruso and Tom Slatter, go to the fair and end up getting married, disastrously. Eugenia Caruso in particular is appropriately effective in her hope and then despair, her voice used to great effect in this small space. Playing opposite her, Tom Slatter has less to work with as his character seems to change almost instantly, but he presents a convincing portrayal of a blinkered and violent man.

Playing opposite these two, Jesse Rutherford has to convince not just as characters younger or older than he is, but also as two different members of the family. His quiet, sometimes understated, but truthful performance is entirely successful, drawing in the audience and suggesting the particular practices and foibles of this family.

Hattie Coupe’s direction is assured and ambitious, taking a magical realism approach we are told, with this being manifest in particular in the set changes and in the ways in which a collection of brown furniture items is gracefully and smoothly used to create sets and props. Inevitably this works better at some times than others, but the suitcase sink, the carousel and the end of the pier made from clothes horses totally convinced, and the camera on a tripod got a delighted reaction from some audience members.

Costumes changes are minimal but sufficient, and a string of coloured lights suggests Luna Park itself. Movement from Steffany George is crucial here, supported by Sepy Baghaei’s Sound Design.

Luna Park is an inventive, effective and engrossing production, well performed and confidently directed. This was a preview performance which will also run at ZOO Southside during the Edinburgh Fringe from 14 to 29 August at 11.50am every day.

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