Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe
Many authors have had success despite nobody knowing who they are. The Bell brothers were a literary sensation before it was revealed they were the Brontë sisters while we still know relatively little about William Shakespeare despite his reputation as the greatest writer in English. But in this modern celebrity-hungry world, the author has become a commodity, profiled in magazines and available in the flesh at signings and readings. In new play Heather, Thomas Eccleshare explores how important is to know a writer’s identity and their life story and how that affects our experience of appreciating their work.
It focuses on Heather Eames, a newly emerged writer of a best-selling series of children’s books about a young witch, Greta, who wields (appropriately) a magic pen. The show opens on an epistolary exchange between her and an editor, Harry, who takes her work from the slush pile to worldwide success. Often funny, it charts Harry’s growing exasperation at excessively shy Heather’s insistence she will not do any face-to-face interviews or picture spreads in the Sunday glossies. It is impossible to say any more without spoilers but the play dramaticallly changes gear, toying with theatrical forms and expectations in inventive ways.
Despite the cleverness of the writing, the set is a simple table, two chairs and strip lighting, with just two actors, Charlotte Melia and Ashley Gerlach, as Heather and Harry. Grippingly directed by Valentina Ceschi, it effectively shifts tone and perspective and, by the end, leaves us questioning how much we really want to know about the authors we love.
Running to August 27, 2017