I saw Knock Knock on my final day at the Edinburgh Fringe, making the trek all the way out to C primo on a complete whim. And what a whim it was. In doing so, I stumbled upon one of the most beautiful, heartfelt shows of the Fringe. Niv Petel’s one-man show follows a mother-son relationship in Israel where every child grows up to become a soldier, and every parent has an army uniform hidden in the attic.
“a beautiful bubbling tension underlying every mundane moment”
Opening with one of the festival’s most wince-inducing scenes using just mime and music, Knock Knock has a beautiful bubbling tension underlying every mundane moment, as the inevitable conscription slowly approaches. It’s this mix of mundanity and terror which makes Knock Knock so special. Although this single mother has eighteen long years to spend with her son, it still feels like the clock is ticking before he’s taken away. Petel plays the mother with such delicacy that every vignette oozes with pathos and humanity. The relatable familial fun and laughter is juxtaposed with a deep emotional subtext. As the production progressed into its emotionally-charged third act, I found myself quietly weeping the remaining moments of the show away. Knock Knock evokes an all-consuming sympathy for a mother simply trying to do her best for her son.
The simplicity of Knock Knock is quite extraordinary. Petel’s masterpiece spans multiple decades and settings with a minimal set and props, with the set consisting of a table, chair, phone and basket. A single lonely lightbulb hangs from the ceiling, lighting scenes with pure, dim strands of light. The simplicity gives Petel’s writing and performance the uninterrupted limelight, and it’s fair to say Petel steps up to the mark with remarkable gusto, giving a stunning performance of a superb piece of writing.
Knock Knock is up there with my most memorable, moving productions this Fringe. A deeply poignant and heartfelt story told with innovation and imagination. It may have been a spur of the moment decision to go, but I will not be forgetting this production for many, many years.
C primo, 2nd – 28th August (not 14th), 19:30
Image: Niv Petel