Spine @ The Underbelly Cowgate Review (Edinburgh Festival)

When was the last time you went to your local library? To think that once upon a time, whether it was for homework purposes or to loan out the latest instalment of the Harry Potter series, the library was the go to place for information and stories. A place now resigned to a thing of myth; the idea of a place devoted to the safe keeping of literature appears to have been swiftly replaced by the dawn of technology.

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Award winning playwright, Clara Brennan’s aptly named Spine cleverly acknowledges both the strength of a book’s spine, and the will and fearlessness demonstrated by the female lead, Amy. Personified by Rosie Wyatt, the thoughts and opinions of a boisterous and loquacious teen are well and truly voiced in this hour long monologue.

Situated in the heart of a confined yet rich treasure trove of books, Amy finds herself engrossed into a supposedly unassuming world of literature and self belief as her new found friendship with the politically charged Glenda proves to be the making of her. Described as a “people person” by the loveable Glenda, Amy believes she is anything but as a life of anti social behaviour, ranging from burglary to assault threatens to shape her future.

Wyatt’s brashness fires up the gloomy setting as her anecdotal monologue ranges from the trivial to the more hard hitting. Bethany Pitts directs a minimal yet fiery production, (which sees Wyatt play the roles of Amy, Amy’s boyfriend and Glenda), with Amy’s feistiness contrasting endearingly with Glenda’s more genteel yet anarchic persona. Although Wyatt depicts a vulnerable side to the protagonist, Amy’s bolshy and rebellious attitude at times overwhelms, with the volume of the piece frequently keeping to a loud dynamic. Brennan’s tangential script packs a punch, as Amy’s shameless dialogue illustrates the lack of a filter, and Amy’s need to feel accepted within her own family and friendship group.

Glenda’s passing comment of Amy one day becoming Prime Minister demonstrates the unbreakable bond between the two characters. Weighed down by the constant insults and lack of encouragement of others, the audience witness the protagonists belief system of her intellectual abilities strengthen, as she begins to realise how valid her own opinions are.

A coming of age piece that highlights the importance of the younger generations opinions, no matter where you are from, Brennan’s production is a political beacon for the technological age. A piece not for the faint hearted, Spine presents an honest, straight talking Prime Ministerial candidate for the future. 3.5/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Spine is currently showing at the Underbelly Cowgate as part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival until Sunday 24th August. For more information on the production, visit here…

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