• Fri. May 24th, 2024

Doppler — Review

ByCallum Osment

Aug 9, 2021

Venue: Near the Shell Grotto at Newhailes House and Gardens

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Going to see Grid Iron’s Doppler was certainly a memorable and unique experience, and while there were flaws on display in this preview, the production has a lot of potential to shine as its run continues. 

Doppler is based on the Norwegian novel of the same name, about a man named Doppler who moves to the woods and adopts a wild elk following the death of his father. It’s a story that certainly strikes a chord, and the idea of a simple, carefree lifestyle away from the trappings of modern life definitely sounds appealing. This message seems fairly obvious, and perhaps a little naive, but for the most part the play is endearing. The show is performed outside, in a clearing in the woods by Newhailes House, immersing you more fully into Doppler’s world (there is a certain irony hearing Doppler cry out ‘nobody should own a forest’ in a forest owned by the National Trust, which I want to say was intentional). 

Keith Fleming as Doppler is undeniably watchable, and Hay and Tylor do a great job populating the world around our main character, disappearing into each role they adopt (perhaps except for Hay’s turn as a 4 year old child, which considering the wide age gap is so ridiculous you can forgive it). This preview show did feel a bit restrained: Fleming’s turn is impressive but it could have been so much more, and as the run progresses it would be good to see the cast lean into the silliness of it all a bit more, because the script often didn’t get the big laughs it deserved. The play does seem a little confused on its target audience too, in that moments of childish play between man and elk are followed immediately by expletive-ridden drunken rants while doppler urinates onto the ground.

Nik Paget-Tomlinson serves as a one man audio-visual band in wooden shack stage left, providing the soundtrack with live instrumentation, as well as practical sound effects, like cutting with scissors standing in for a knife stabbing. The fact that this is all on display for the audience is an element we aren’t usually afforded, making you appreciate the effort behind the production more.

Ultimately, Ben Harrison’s team has been able to do with limited resources is impressive. Obviously this production has been on a rollercoaster ride this year, so the fact the team has pulled it off is undeniably an achievement. Whilst it does seem the sum is greater than its individual parts, with more commitment to the performances and a clearer, focused tone, this show could develop into one of the gems of the fringe; it’s also just a lovely day out. 

Aug 8-9, 11-16, 18, 20-23 (Times may vary)
Images: Duncan McGlynn