Review: The Basement Tapes

Zanetti Productions
Summerhall – until August 26th
5 Stars (5 / 5)

The Basement Tapes is a one-hander performed by Stella Reid, with a five-minute appearance by the pizza delivery guy. Beginning in darkness, the audience hears Reid on the phone in panic, as if beginning in the middle of the action. Within seconds, it is revealed that her teenage character is simply ordering a pizza, and the audience bursts into laughter. This twenty-second emotional journey more or less encapsulates the spirit of the entire play and is exactly what makes this show so darn magnificent and Reid one hell of an actress.

The small room is furnished to resemble an actual basement, with rickety wheels, vinyl records, cardboard boxes, bubble wrap. The audience sees a teenager indulging in this world of memorabilia, roleplaying with coats, using little toy figurines as cigarettes, dancing to loud rap music in this world. However, the production takes it one step further by meticulously placing objects at certain spots, and it makes the teenagers’ discovery seem all the more organic. Every aspect of this production has been considered from top to tail.

Reid builds the teenagers’ universe so convincingly that when the tapes start to play, it triggers the audience’s imagination vividly and keeps them on the edge of their seats. The Basement Tapes is filled with unexpected twists and turns, which even the show’s description of ‘Twin Peaks meets Serial’ will not prepare anyone for.