The Bitter Belief of Cotrone the Magician ***

Sweet in the Firth of Forth, 8 – 16 August 2009

Reviewed for The List (issue 636)

Considering it demands £25 of your cash and nearly five hours of your time, Cotrone the Magician is inexcusably incomprehensible and unsatisying as a piece of theatre. But it’s also impossible to judge independent of its venue – the island of Inchcolm – and it’s primarily the venue that makes it worth the investment.

It’s an hour and a half by coach and boat from departure to curtain up, and even once the wait is over the onstage action ranges in pace from ‘stately’ to ‘moonwalking through molasses’. The plot is slow-moving to the point of non-existence, and what little does happen is performed in achingly slow motion.

But the trip is an enjoyable one, the island has an undeniable charm and the tumbledown Inchcolm Abbey is a tourist attraction in itself. The play is a bonus. Call it Package Tour Theatre. Add the bizarre and ingenious costume puppets that bring to life Cotrone’s magical creations, and you have a spectacle that’s worthwhile with or without a narrative to drive it.

Just one caveat: deduct a star if it’s raining.

Written by Andrea Cusumano after Pirandello

Crew includes Andrea Cusumano (director)

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