Grid Iron
Newhailes House and Gardens

5 Stars (5 / 5)


Midlife crisis, enlightenment, awakening… call it whatever you want. Doppler just doesn’t want to be part of a consumerist society anymore and so decides to live in a forest. 

However it is not as easy as it might seem at first sight. Not only for the sake of survival – Doppler (played by the amazing Keith Fleming) needs to get himself food and supplies in a way he never did before. But he is having quite the social life, one he intended to leave behind. He is getting regular visits from a shop owner he steals from, a shallow rich guy who is trying to be like him and he also takes care of a baby elk whose mother he killed for meat. On top of that he has a pregnant wife and two kids he reluctantly takes care of when she is away.

And here comes the beauty and magic of a site-specific theatre, Grid Iron is used brilliantly. The performance takes place six miles from Edinburgh in the quiet and peaceful Newhailes Gardens. It doesn’t only make a perfect stage, set with all the greenery around, but also activates our other senses with birds chirping, forest smells sweetened by burning wood evoking holiday memories and using tree trunks instead of chairs. Even most of the sound effects are made “raw” by rubbers, scissors, cloths etc. to illustrate the action. We are in Doppler’s private paradise and experience the joy of hermit life with him. We are enjoying ourselves and I bet it wasn’t only me playing with an idea to do something similar. 

But would the play be perceived the same in a regular theatre, watching from the plush seats? I don’t think so. Doppler would suddenly look like a lunatic who has heartlessly abandoned his wife expecting a baby, who in addition has to take care of a teenager and four year old. He would look like a self-centered misanthrope avoiding responsibility to provide for his family. 

Yet here and now he is closer to us more than we would like him to be. He is sharing with us his soft spots, annoyances and journeys throughout his first year in the forest. We can weirdly relate after more than an anti-social year in lockdown, trying to figure out what is normal and right anymore and what we want reality to be.

P.S. Any possible analogy to lockdown is not intentional. Grid Iron decided to create Doppler before 2020.