Pleasance Dome – JackDome
Vagabond Productions are celebrating their thirteenth year at the Edinburgh Fringe with a revival of one of their most successful productions. The Chairs Revisited is exactly that, a one hour fringe‑friendly adaptation of Eugène Ionesco’s classic play.
Vagabond’s production is their own, faithful and familiar sounding translation and nothing is lost in condensing this to an hour. They’ve cut to the chase, discarding the long and rambling scene about leaving Paris as a boy, which gives this production a fantastic pace by establishing character then getting to the all-important visitors. There are ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ references to the pandemic (“they’re changing the rules every day!” they complain) that the company seem proud of, but they’re not intrusive to the text and can easily be tuned out or missed if you’re over it all. This production is not a radical adaptation in any way and will likely go unseen in this festival chiefly of new writing.
Bart Vanlaere and Louise Seyffert are excellent as the protagonists. Their performances are tight and never drift off, almost as if fighting against the nature of the play. They are clearly well practiced in absurdism, so much so that it all almost makes sense. At times their performances are deadly serious, at times clownish. Vanlaere plays the Old Man in a voice reminiscent of Vic and Bob’s Lloyd Grossman but with none of the creepiness. Seyffert too is engaging throughout and knows how to play with the audience within the limitations of the text.
In the final scene the orator is replaced by a children’s toy robot operated cautiously by Seyffert in a fantastically inventive, funny and fringey tweak to the ending Ionesco would be proud of.
This is an excellent production that deserves a bigger room outside of the fringe.
Written by: Eugène Ionesco
Produced by: Vagabond Productions
The Chairs Revisited plays at EdFringe 2022 until 29 August. Further information and bookings here.