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Review: Making History at St Ninian’s Hall- Ed Fringe

Review by Lucy Holz


An adaptation of the 1996 Stephen Fry novel by the same name, Making History is the first ever staged version of the classic sci-fi book. Chosen by director Colin McPherson as a juicy challenge to sink his teeth into, his adaptation aims to distil the 450-page work into a piece of live theatre.


Although familiar with Stephen Fry, I have never read Making History, so entered the hall with no expectations. A sold out show, it’s wonderful to see community theatre being celebrated this Edinburgh Fringe.


Performed by Edinburgh Theatre Arts, this story follows a Cambridge student and a physics professor who decide to dabble in time travel in an attempt to prevent the Holocaust. Although the plot is a little predictable, McPherson’s adaptation is highly engaging, amusing and concise.


The ingenious set designed by McPherson creates the perfect catalyst to get the audience musing preshow. A three walled room covered in canvases of historical figures, no-one could help but try and name them all.


As the show begins, these pictures are revealed to be covers for various doors, windows and cupboards, concealing additional set pieces and crucial props. With constantly changing locations ranging from a Cambridge laboratory to a Princeton dorm room, this design is seamless at creating new spaces in next to no time.


Within the large cast there are standout performers, notably Ed DeRuiter as the charismatic protagonist Michael Young, who barely leaves the stage and carries the story without a hiccup. Although he only appears in the second act, Luke Bazalgette as Michael’s bamboozled American companion almost steals the show with his confident and charming performance.


Undoubtedly a huge challenge to adapt such a large text, McPherson does so through creating a large number of very short scenes. Although probably unavoidable, this does inhibit dramatic tension from truly rising as it may have otherwise.


The impact of this could have been lessened through a consistent and thematically relevant score, however unfortunately it is only further hindered by a confusing sound design by Danny Farrimond. Choosing to punctuate every scene change with a different pop song or cheesy instrumental, the audience often laughs at the randomness of the song choice. This arises as Farrimond has chosen pieces which include lyrics that directly relate to the dialogue spoken in the scene, rather than the overall tone of the story.


Despite this rather literal sound design, this show is truly community theatre at its best. The direction is strong and cohesive, with McPherson making use of space on and off the stage and ensuring there are no bad seats in the house.


I left the theatre with my interest in the text truly piqued, indicating that McPherson has achieved his goal in engaging my imagination. A must see for any Stephen Fry fan or potential time traveller.

Image Supplied

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