It’s hard to find words that accurately describe what DROLL exactly is, let alone just how good it is. I suppose a good place to start would be to imagine a literature seminar, delivered by the coolest professor around, which then descends into utter anarchy, before looping back around to reveal intellectual pearls of wisdom at its close.
‘utterly ridiculous and yet weirdly charming’
DROLL is presented by the award-winning Owle Schreame theatre company and focuses on the existence and legacy of underperformed 16th and 17th century plays, known as drolls, which emerged in 1642 after theatre was made illegal. All this information is delivered to us by the inimitable Brice Stratford, who came across as part-intellectual, part-madman, and also plays the show’s main character John Swabber, who I can only describe as being akin to Shakespeare’s Falstaff on crack. The show is semi-improvised and the ramshackle nature and sheer enthusiasm of each performer is palpable and infectious. James Carney also does a fantastic job as the show’s band leader initiating a rowdy sing-along in the audience. Emma Woolf is equally excellent as the sultry and treacherous wife, Parnel, chewing the scenery wonderfully and striding about the stage like a woman possessed.
‘a true hidden gem of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe’
The style of DROLL is utterly ridiculous and yet weirdly charming. It’s unashamedly chaotic with characters being broken, lines forgotten and almost constant audience interaction. It’s all over the place, but that’s how it’s intended to be and the result is an endearing, rib-tickling farce. The chaotic nature should not be mistaken for a lack of care, however. It seems that creating an entertaining and enjoyable production is the top priority for DROLL, whether that comes through a cohesive production or an unashamedly messy farce is somewhat irrelevant. This is theatre which feels alive, it feels fresh, responsive and different every night, unafraid to be silly or weird as long as it creates an entertaining show.
DROLL is ridiculously silly and rough around the edges, but it’s also tremendous fun. With a little bit of education thrown in, and a genuinely kind sentiment, DROLL is a true hidden gem of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
theSpace (various venues), 4th – 26th August (not Sundays)
Image: The Owle Schreame