My goodness has Summerhall had an immense Fringe. And I’ve only seen part of it.
It has been my main home for the Fringe having seen this show ****, Dolly Would ****, LIES *****, Charlotte Church ****, Richard Gadd *****, Blanck Mass ***, Border Crossing ***** and Seance ***. (2 x 3 star shows, 3 x 4 stars and 3 x 5 stars. That’s a pretty good investment in my book).
My main reason for seeing The Gardener was because Nicola Roy plays a supporting role in it to Crawford Logan. She’s an unsung star of Scottish Theatre and one of our best comic actors. (It just so happens she is a delightful human being to boot.)
Any way, it did not disappoint.
To a deliberately very small audience of 20 we are shown into the bowels of Summerhall – the brightly lit ‘Machine Room’ which, it transpires, is the meeting room of the Pine Grove Villas ‘Retirement Community’.
There are no pines and “it’s an Old Folks Home” observes Frank (our host) “Should be called Altzheimers Acres.”
Frank is hosting a lecture on gardening to us, his 20 fellow ‘inmates’, but the lecture is merely a device to reflect on his love of gardening. Fecund as he is in his ‘Cultivation of the Soil’ he is sadly less fecund in his life, with his beloved wife Joan who is three years passed.
Gardening is the great metaphor for a life that he constantly breaks off from the lecture to retell.
Initially hysterical, thanks largely to Roy’s interventions as the “only nice” carer in the home, it becomes increasingly sad, but Crawford Logan (brilliant as Frank) doesn’t milk the pathos. He is a stoic character who sees life as what it is, with it’s inevitable outcome.
Tony Cownie has beautifully crafted a lovely Dramaturg by Lynda Radley and the cleverness of the design by Ed Robson has an ace up its sleeve as the show comes to an end, with no bows.
A poignant, heartfelt piece that will surely keep popping up around the country. If you get the chance to see it. Jump.