Sunday 4 October 2015

Mallory - Beyond Everest, a play by John Burns at Eden Court, Inverness, November 10th.

John Burns as George Mallory

Last year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe I went to see John Burns’ excellent one-man play about George Mallory, which I reviewed for The Great Outdoors. The show, written and performed by Burns, is based on the conceit that Mallory didn’t die on Everest but descended alone after Irvine’s death and then kept silent for the next 30 years, only reminiscing about the trip after Hillary and Tensing climbed the mountain.  

In my review I wrote ‘dressed in 1920s Tweed clothing and using a minimum of props – wooden ice axe, hemp rope, blackboard – Burns successfully brings Mallory to life as he tells his story from boyhood escapades to Everest. Mallory’s doubts are expressed too – torn between his wife and children and his desire for Everest he has to be persuaded to join the fateful 1924 expedition. 

John Burns as George Mallory
By creative use of the props – the blackboard also becomes railway tracks and a tent frame – and by moving round the small stage Burns prevents the play becoming a static speech. The monologue is broken at times too by the off-stage clipped voice of a BBC interviewer, sounding thoroughly 1920s, and some haunting flute music by Bob Pegg …... an entertaining and thoughtful piece.’

Mallory – Beyond Everest is coming to Inverness in November. I’m looking forward to seeing it again. If you like theatre and mountains I highly recommend it.

Aleister Crowley: A Passion for Evil, Phoenix Ale House, Inverness, October 28th.

Also coming to Inverness is John Burn’s play about Aleister Crowley, the notorious occultist and mountaineer, which sounds intriguing. Burns says ‘writing my one man play about Crowley was a journey, a journey to some dark and terrifying places’. I'm also looking forward to seeing this.

Pictures courtesy of John Burns

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