Man of 100 Faces, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

The disaffected son of a clergyman, Sir Paul Dukes, ran away to Russia to work as a musician. While there, the Russian Revolution started and British intelligence recruited him to work as a secret agent. He was to smuggle prominent people and useful materials across the border to Finland, and otherwise do what spies do without getting himself killed. Reportedly a master of disguise, the so-called ‘man of a 100 faces’ is portrayed by the versatile and energetic Saul Boyer, though the story is so dense and frenetically told that it is difficult to keep track of the various subplots and characters.

Boyer, also the writer of the show, would benefit from dramaturgical streamlining of the text. A clear overarching climax would also help give the piece a clearer shape; at the moment the near misses and narrow escapes that come every few minutes eventually lose their impressiveness. As much as the chaotic spirit of the show effectively comes across particularly given the pace it’s delivered, there are so many madcap adventures that it’s difficult to retain them all or determine which is most important.

The same applies to the characters, who are distinguished by different accents and voices. There are loads of different people he meets and given the historical circumstances wherein most are not who they say they are, it’s hard to remember who is who, what side they are on, and their relationships with other people included in the show at any given moment.

That said, Boyer’s stamina and versatility are admirable. Dukes also makes a compelling subject for a piece of theatre. However, the even pace and energy and the thickly-written, high-octane script need definition and nuance.

Man of 100 Faces runs through 29 August.

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2 thoughts on “Man of 100 Faces, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

  1. Leslie Dweck says:

    ouf there is no accounting for those who dont see a totally remarkable story told in a challenging brilliant way with an acting tour de Force, Bravo to the writter and actor, Cambridge English Graduate Saul Boyer !.
    I suggest you see it again with a clear head! Its brilliant in very many ways! I suggest those seeking excelence at the fringe go see it!


  2. Fiona Munro - Muotune says:

    Brilliant, followed the plot and characters with no problem at all. His energy for the show was incredible. Absolutely loved it. Go and see it if it’s not too late 🤣


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