Review: Impossible

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HEARD the one about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini?

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Pleasance Dome, Potterrow

Impossible is a dramatic skip through their unlikely friendship, at first built upon then publicly destroyed by their increasingly determined efforts to persuade each other of a fundamental truth.

Houdini (Alan Cox), the foremost illusionist of the time, is a sceptic. Doyle (Phill Jupitus), creator of the ultimate exponent of reason in Sherlock Holmes, believed in the possibility of reaching ‘beyond the morbid veil’ to contact the dead.

The core argument isn’t about whether there’s anything to all that, but whether it’s a harmless comfort to the bereaved or a more cynical exploitation. While remaining sympathetic to Doyle, the production rightly leaves little room for ambiguity. Cox’s Houdini makes for a compelling antagonist on those terms.

The leads and supporting cast are good, charismatic stage presences, even if accents do occasionally wander. It’s a cracking story, well told, although it doesn’t quite all hang together dramatically – some key scenes and themes feel squeezed to fit the one-hour format. It’s still a good hour, albeit one that leaves you wanting a little more.

Until August 31