Back in 2019 when Marcus Brigstocke premiered “The Red” at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I was lucky enough to meet him at one of the food venue vans and was personally flyered by him. The play intrigued me back then. However, as reviewers working at the Fringe understand only too well schedules are often tight and I hadn’t enough time to see it. When I was offered the chance to review this online I jumped at the chance and I am so pleased to have had the opportunity as it well worth the wait.
Performed by real-life father and son actors Bruce and Sam Alexander take to the stage in the roles of John and Benedict. The entire performance is set during the wake of the recently deceased John. Benedict, a recovering alcoholic of 25 years finds himself in his father’s wine cellar reading the letter left for him by his father.
Then comes the interesting dilemna on how would a cellar full of wine be equally divided between three siblings! As Benedict begins to read the letter out, Dad’s voice enters explaining his intentions behind which of his children had been left certain collections, which celebrations he hoped they were be used for.
The audience is treated to an extremely Insightful and heartfelt dialogue between Benedict and his late Father which allows you to have a greater understanding into the mind of a recovering alcoholic. While in John’s final letter he is attempting to “…lead us not into temptation” when he asks Benedict to drink a glass from a bottle of red Château Lafite he purchased to celebrate his son’s second birthday.
“The Red” is based upon Brigstocke’s own experiences as a recovering alcoholic from the tender age of seventeen and the off-stage relationship with his father. When a play is written from the heart the depth of emotions can be heard and felt through every word.
Director Charlotte Peters captures the tenderness of the parent/child relationship. Developing the dialogue in unrushed and sympathetic performances. Set in the familiar surroundings of The Vaults theatre adds to the suspension of disbelief that Benedict is in the depths of his father’s wine cellar. An outstanding production all around.
From the perspective of someone who rarely drinks and doesn’t have any appreciation for wine, it’s very easy to overlook the importance that alcohol can take in many people’s lives. The thought and care that is taken to match each meal, celebration or occasion with an accompanying “shade” of wine. However, the idea of a tea sommelier mentioned by Benedict towards the end of the play certainly appeals.
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