The Infamous Brothers Davenport
Captures excitement of Victorian public séance but makes for unsatisfactory theatre
Some 52 members of the crew on this co-production between Vox Motus and the Lyceum were required to sign secrecy clauses, so it’s no surprise that the show has its fair share of ‘how-did-they-do-that’ moments. In one scene, a table rises from the ground seemingly of its own accord; in another a tambourine floats from the stage and off towards the gods. Writer Peter Arnott and his collaborators have undoubtedly done their research into the phenomenon of the Victorian public séance, but while the production captures the excitement of such stage spectacles the sparseness of the plot makes it rather unsatisfactory as theatre.
This is a shame as the celebrated Davenport brothers’ backstory – including the mysterious suicide of their beloved sister who returns in ghostly form to haunt younger brother Willie (or does she?) – is an intriguing one. Too often, though, the opportunity to explore the real darkness brought on by the loss of loved ones is overlooked in favour of impressive, though increasingly cumbersome, stage trickery.
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat 11 Feb; Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 14–Sat 18 Feb