The plot twist in 'Heather' makes for an electrifying experience

Our Edinburgh Fringe reviewer Tara Fitzpatrick says 'Heather' contains an explosive, revealing turning point

HEATHER is a play with a twist. The programme has asked that when discussing the play we keep the secret so, in that spirit, this is my formal warning that my review contains spoilers. 

Those looking to see Heather during the Edinburgh Fringe’s final week or catch it during touring, you have been warned.

It is clear from the beginning of Heather that something is not quite right. The drama is predominantly silent bar the voices of the actors themselves. For this reason the sound by Iain Armstrong which blasts at the beginning and end of the play is disconcerting and strikes an uneasy chord.

The twist, when it comes, is genuinely surprising. It asks us to question the identity of an artist and whether their work can be considered separately from their own identities. 

The plot is simple enough. Heather Eames is a soon to be a best-selling children’s author arranging the final draft for her adventure novel Greta (think 'the next Harry Potter'). A successful literary agent has taken her on and is exchanging emails back and forth with her. 

The two performers, Ashley Gerlach and Charlotte Melia, speak into microphones placed at the front of the stage. They look forward, reading their emails, and do not meet face to face throughout the lengthy first act. 

Heather is ill and refuses to meet with her agent in person despite her rising fame and her increasing literary success. This makes their inevitable meeting in the second act all the more tense: the switch from standing directly facing the audience to sitting across the table facing each other, the audience seeing their profile, is a dynamic shift which serves to highlight the play’s explosive, revealing turning point.

The twist, when it comes, is genuinely surprising. It asks us to question the identity of an artist and whether their work can be considered separately from their own identities. 

It draws on the public persona of writers such a J.K. Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Susanne Collins and questions what happens to a story when the storyteller is not who they say they are.

It draws on the public persona of writers such a J.K. Rowling, Jacqueline Wilson and Susanne Collins and questions what happens to a story when the storyteller is not who they say they are.

While the third act, which shifts to a dramatic enactment of the latest Greta novel, feels slightly forced in comparison to the still, slow-burning tension of the first two acts, Heather is overall an electrifying viewing experience.

Heather, Dancing Brick and Paul Jellis in association with Tobacco Factory Theatres and the Bush Theatre, Summerhall, 4–27 August

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