Walden ****

‘Simplify.  Simplify.  Simplify.’

So said Henry David Thoreau, arguably one of the finest minds found in American history.  Thoreau was an intellectual, philosopher and writer.  He is most famous for his two-year stint of living on the shores of Walden Pond, where he built a life from scratch.  He would later write about his time there, chronicling his experiences and insights.  This book, Walden, is a must read for any philosophy student, and it is the inspiration behind this play.

Walden is created by Magnetic North.  Director Nicholas Bone has taken Thoreau’s famous quote as advice and has boiled this down to an hour-long production with one actor, an oval-shaped bench for the audience and a set that comprises of a few stones, sticks and a mound of sand.  No over-theatrics or major lighting and sound influxations; just one actor telling Thoreau’s impassioned account of his time in the woods.

That actor, Ewan Donald, is tremendous.  The absolute focus that he has to keep, the way he interacts with both set and audience and the clarity he brings to the story’s narrative and character’s insights are all phenomenally done.  It is easily one of the best performances currently in Edinburgh.

Walden is both historic tale and coming-of-age story.  It is theatre at its simplest yet most effective, and it is not only more than worthy of its current revival but is also worth checking out.

Currently at the Dovecot at 15.00 until August 31, then touring.

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