Susan Bullock and Lester Lynch in Bluebeards Castle, Edinburgh International Festival ©JessShurte_047(1)

Festival Review: Bluebeard’s Castle

Megan Amato reviews Bluebeard’s Castle.

When I was first given the program for the upcoming International Festival, I immediately clicked yes for Bluebeard’s Castle without much thought. 

As a lover of classic fairy tales reimagined through different mediums, I assumed I was in for Bela Bartok’s classic operatic tale of a woman forcing open doors to her husband’s terrifying past and instead was met with an innovative story about an older woman with dementia coming to terms with her own ‘locked away’ memories.

The set is beautifully assembled. Dozens of eclectic lamps are arranged on a wall and around the living room setting along with some domestic decoration that makes the stage look well lived in. 

It’s rare to hear opera in English but both Lester Lynch as Bluebeard and Susan Bullock as Judith delivered this condensed (1 hr and 10 min) piece with breathtaking range and sentiment. The four-piece Hebrides Ensemble led by conductor Stephen Higgins is beautifully scored as it highlights the ups and downs of the performance and of the couple’s relationship.  

Both Evans and Lynch showcased an amazing breadth of emotions along with their vocal talent. Evans was entirely believable in anxiety and confusion as she was in her moments of lucidity. An Lynch’s exhaustion and heartbreak over his wife’s condition and her lack of faith in him as her memories are revealed. 

There are moments where I questioned which one of them had dementia as Bluebird seemed to forget his older wife for her younger selves. However, as the play wrapped up, his actions seemed less lecherous and more moving as he showed that he loved every version of her.

This was an absolutely beautiful performance, both uplifting and heartbreaking as everyone from the production to casting teams walks us through the moving story, capturing the essence of the original fairytale in a novel and contemporary way.



Read more reviews on Scottish Field’s Fringe pages.

Plus, don’t miss the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.