There’s something particularly alluring about a good glass of red wine, the smell, the taste, and that warm feeling of an embrace as you drink it down. In his directorial debut, Marcus Brigstocke presents The Red at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, a piece he originally penned for radio but decants beautifully to the stage.
Benedict is an alcoholic, who has been sober for twenty-five years, who on the day of his father’s funeral finds himself in the old man’s wine cellar reading a letter from his recently deceased dad. This two-hander goes on to form a conversation between father and son that puts a moral dilemma firmly at the forefront.
Benedict and his father are played by real life father and son Bruce and Sam Alexander, so you can see a very close bond between the pair almost immediately, as they go on to bounce naturally off of one another. The strong performances further amplify Brigstocke’s very layered writing style which has moments of comedy sewn through an otherwise gripping hour of drama.
There’s a line where Benedict tells his father that he was an alcoholic before he had his first drink, it’s a gut punching reminder of the devastation that addiction can cause, and The Red is a an incredibly astutely written examination of the role families play in the situation.
This deep bodied family drama, with notes of tragedy is a compelling story ideally suited to the Fringe. Marcus Brigstocke’s writing comes from a place of personal experience and that further accentuates what is truly at stake for Benedict. The Red will appeal to wine connoisseurs as much as theatre lovers, but it will also speak to anyone who has experienced the desire to be supported through life’s toughest moments.