The Testament of Cresseid ****

Almost three months later and I find that the Edinburgh International Festival’s production of The Testament of Cresseid still haunts me.

Why is that?  It wasn’t the most original production.  David Levin’s 45-minute play contained a good script and adequate staging.  The design concept was fine and the recordings of three supporting actors worked better than most such recordings.  I found the choice of having the audience sit in colourful beach chairs a bit out of character for the production on hand, but the seats weren’t that bad, nor did they detract from anything.

No, it was Jimmy Yuill’s heartbreaking performance that still echo’s with me.  Rarely have I seen a performance as focused as his.  Everything he did, from line delivery to the slight tremor of his hand, was hypnotic.  I found myself completely transfixed by him, holding on to every word and motion with pure theatrical delight.

Looking back, I find myself struggling to remember the specifics of the script (credited to Robert Henryson with translation duties performed by Elizabeth Elliott).  I remember moments and the general gist, but I’d be hard pressed to go into any detail.  But I still find myself transfixed by Yuill’s work.  Sat in a wheelchair the entire time, he gave a performance that was more moving and larger than life than most I’ve seen this year.

It’s a shame that it was tucked away, almost a mere footnote.  But sometimes such productions prove themselves to be hidden little gems and end up trumping the big guns.  Though I thought that this was an exceptionally strong Festival this year, The Testament of Cresseid was a standout due to one phenomenal performance.


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