If you’ve previously seen Jethro Compton’s Bunker Trilogy, the format of this Capone-themed equivalent will be familiar. If you haven’t, the lowdown involves being squashed onto benches in an almost unbearably stuffy studio at C Nova, ready to witness three actors at their crafts. By the ten minute mark, you’ve miraculously forgotten your own discomfort as you plunge into what Compton has billed as an “immersive experience.” And immersive it is. The first instalment of The Capone Trilogy is sleek, engaging and consistently funny.
The Capone Trilogy: Loki is quite obviously based on the trickster of Norse mythology. I’d call the interpretation loose, but fairly true to form: while the plot might seem unfamiliar, all Loki’s trickery and cheek is apparent. Our Loki, going under the moniker of showgirl Lola Keen, plots the demise of a fiancé she doesn’t want to marry, in the process tricking and squirming her way into her own unravelling. Suzie Preece, it must be said, is near-flawless in her role as Lola. Her charisma fills the room, and a minute without any dialogue from her leaves you wishing for the drawl of a Chicago showgirl accent.
The production is set in the 1920s and features all the best bits of a true noir experience, including the some of the smoothest breaking of the fourth wall I’ve seen in a long time. And Jethro Compton’s sets are always a wonder. As you sit surrounded by the peeling wallpaper of a shabby hotel room, hidden traps mean that actors are sliding under the bed one minute and knocking at the door in the next. It looks effortlessly smooth, even with the cast displaying a coy self-consciousness about it all.
There are however, hit-and-miss parts of both writing and performance. Often the physical comedy goes on a little long, leading to an awkward lull in audience responsiveness. And all the shouting and hysterics occasionally becomes a little grating. But before long, there’s invariably a piece of bitingly witty dialogue, after which any awkwardness is quickly forgotten.
Anyone who has seen the sleek, blockbuster-like posters for this trilogy, or who has seen any of Jethro Compton’s previous productions, will be expecting a lot from this play. What a wonderful thing then that none of us walked out with a sense of disappointment. The performance often had to pause for laughter from the audience, and the final round of applause was rousing. This will surely be one of the most talked-about shows of the Fringe – so don’t miss it.