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Penny Dreadful's Etherdome - One4Review

4 Stars


Horror comedy meets American vaudeville in the Penny Dreadful’s take on the search for the relief of pain in dentistry and surgery. Throughout the ages, the medical Holy Grail was to discover how to carry out surgical procedures without the patient being on the receiving end of a horrific experience.

The action is set in America in the mid-19th century. Three characters are depicted – Charles T Jackson, a man of ideas ; Horace Wells, an experimenter who used himself as a human guinea pig to test various compounds ; and William T G Morton, a former student of Jackson who was unscrupulous in his determination to become the first to discover pain relief. The play follows the interplay between the characters in the use of laughing gas, ether and chloroform. What I didn’t realise at the time is that the main events depicted did actually happen. Google can be a wonderful search engine.

Thrown into the mix were a couple of comedy song routines. I particularly liked the fairground atmosphere created in a song to represent the tricksters who went round the country selling their chemical preparations which could supposedly cure all illnesses.

The frenzied approach they take is enormous fun with plenty of hamming it up to bring the audience into the action.

Reviewed by Ben

Assembly George Square/Bosco Theatre: 3

3 to 29 August 2011 (not 16)

14.10 – 15.20

Fringe Programme Page Number: 287

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