Liam Rudden: Catch a Thief at the Leith Fest

Matt Robertson in 'Thief'
Matt Robertson in 'Thief'
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LEITH Festival is currently well underway. It runs until next Sunday, when the annual Leith Tattoo (outside Malmaison, on The Shore) begins to bring down the curtain on this year’s event, which, over nine days will have seen more than 100 performances and events take place in 26 venues, most within a one mile radius of the ‘Fit o’ the Walk’.

It’s been an exciting week, not least because my one-man play, Thief, is running nightly at the aforementioned Malmaison with three different actors alternating the title role.

Thief premiered at the Brighton Fringe last year, where it won the Best Theatrical Performance Award, with Matt Robertson starring.

Of course, the thing about a one-man show is you always need an understudy, just in case. Enter Stephen Humpage. However, having never been a fan of theatre where the understudy is a carbon copy of the originator, so Stephen became an ‘alternative’ and we developed a completely new character in rehearsal. It’s quite eye-opening as lines suddenly take on new depths.

Something as simple as a change in emphasis can completely change the impact and relevance of an entire scene.

Jack Elliot has joined the cast as well now. All three are appearing on different nights in Leith (7.30pm).

All are very different and have unique approaches to the rehearsal process. The result is, while the character says the same words, each actor imbues them with very different emotions. It’s fascinating to watch - no two performances are ever the same, and bizarrely, those who have seen more than one actor in the role never express a favourite.

Which is how theatre should be. Each performance should be an individual experience, there’s nothing worse than watching an actor on automatic pilot, going through the motions.

That’s something you won’t see at Thief.