EDINBURGH FRINGE: Resurrecting Bobby Awl at Summerhall (venue 26) EH9 1PL***
Seeing as sculptor, poet, novelist, film maker and performance artist Brian Catling wrote this, his  first play, after seeing a post mortem cast of Bobby Awl’s head in the museum of the Edinburgh Phrenological Collection, Summerhall’s  Anatomy Lecture Theatre seemed the ideal venue for the true story of a disabled street urchin who, in 19th century Edinburgh, was given up at birth by his parents for being less than human and, by the time of his death at the age of 22, had become famous.

As we sat at tiered desks like medical students, I could almost see before us a cadaver bring sliced open and its entrails extracted.

Casts of Bobby Awl’s head and skull add to the atmosphere but, sadly, the acoustics leave a lot to be desired and a lot of the echoing dialogue is lost. This is a shame as, although the production is meant to look like an amateur affair, the actors are heavyweights. Even Matthew Darcy, who shouts the odd word from the audience, has worked at the National!

Georgie Morrell, a BBC Audio Awards Best Debut Performance nominee, gives an assured performance as the narrator, and Maisie Greenwood (The Young Vic) causes some laughs as the incompetent blonde who can’t do a Scottish accent. But it is the RSC’s Ruth Everett who stands out. You can almost feel her discomfort when she fidgets wide-eyed as a nervous performer, but once she takes centre stage she’s a force to be reckoned with and holds us in the palm of her hand.

I felt that, given the play’s pedigree (its producers are Avalon and BBC Arts), I would have gained more from it, but because of the acoustics and a weird idea where sacks portray Bobby and other characters, I left dissatisfied. I would like to hear it again, however, with proper acoustics, perhaps as a radio play.

Resurrecting Bobby Awl is at Summerhall until Aug 25 at 4pm. Tickets £15/£14.
Box Office: 0131 560 1581 www.summerhall.co.uk
Image: Mihaela Bhodlovic