If You're Feeling Sinister - Edinburgh Fringe

If You're Feeling Sinister - Edinburgh Fringe

If You're Feeling Sinister, based off and set to the iconic Belle and Sebastian album of the same name, is a new play by Eve Nicol which follows Boss and Kid through the aftermath of an impromptu art heist.

At the forefront of If You’re Feeling Sinister is its complex, lean and sublimely ambiguous narrative. Are Boss and Kid lovers? Friends? Is their relationship something more illicit that it seems to be from the off? Nicol isn’t afraid of making her audience work, only to leave with lingering questions mostly unanswered, and this pays off in a beautifully challenging, complex and exciting piece of work which hangs in the air at the curtain call. My only qualm is that, with mental health issues ultimately forming such a critical plot point, the production could have done with slightly more in the way of content warnings. That said, the way it handles said issues - though initially, I’ll admit, I was skeptical - absolutely hits the nail on the head; it maintains a dryly comedic sort of irreverence in a way which feels totally right for the story-world it builds, being careful to never glamourise or sensationalise. Melded with gorgeously precise direction from Paul Brotherson - building a story-world which slips through your fingers as you grasp at it; which is subdued, mundane and magical all at once - If You’re Feeling Sinister has this gorgeous mythic energy about it.

Identifying stand-out performances in a two-hander always feels slightly unfair; luckily, both Alan McHugh (Boss) and Sarah Swire (Kid) are excellent as Nicol’s gloriously mismatched duo. Swire, full of a pressurised sort of adolescent energy, bounces off McHugh’s groundedness; their dynamic feels at once believable and worrying. Both handle the three-dimensionality of their characters with ease and subtlety - letting their characters, both having experienced their fair share of grief, be funny and vulnerable and damaged and damaging.

If You’re Feeling Sinister is an instant classic; stunningly atmospheric, dark, funny and complex, it is a standout of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe programme.

Clodagh Chapman