Max Dickins (alumni of last year’s Fringe smash hit The Trunk) returns to Edinburgh this summer with his one man show The Man on the Moor – a driech fictional tale based broadly on fact that is a sombre yet ultimately uplifting portrayal of a son on the hunt for his dead father and those poor souls around the UK in a comparable situation.
Dickins invites us to a group-meeting focusing on loss and grief, an appointment of sorry souls trapped inside a community centre on a never-ending loop attempting to explain their despair. How does one just let go of a person that they once held so dear? Dickins glides like a shadow across the stage in effort to show us, splicing between each character’s regional accent with relative ease, showing us the grief and heartbreak that such a burden can hold on someone. Towards the latter stages of the story Dickins describes to us a manic tale of the main character’s search through his father’s last steps, leading us through the dreary moors of England, up several thousand feet of grassland to the sea where a loved one ultimately came to die; a chapter akin to the otherworldly scribblings found in Lanark by Alasdair Gray.
It is an informative, dramatic monologue that invokes a sense of dread that some viewers may find a little too harrowing. At times, Dickins appears to lose his place amongst the different characters, however these minute details are hardly noticeable nor discouraging to the overall experience. If you’ve been led to think it’s all a little too ‘gloom and doom’ then think again, as some comic relief is thrown in in the form of Colin, Matthew’s mum’s new boyfriend; the kind of bloke that talks too loud and listens too little at your local.
By the end a sigh of relief is allowed as the overhead projector, after conveying to us the true statistics of missing persons in the UK, grinds to a halt. Dickins returns to the stage, bowing at the sold out crowd. He’s achieved an eye-opening, uncomfortable tale of loss and tragedy, allowing us only a brief glimpse of light in the tunnel towards the latter stages of the performance.
The Man on the Moor runs until 27th August at Underbelly Cowgate, 15:00.