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The Fat Toad Theatre Company's Edinburgh debut is a surprisingly authentic period play set in a formerly wealthy household facing the threat of bankruptcy over an eventful twenty-four hours in 1912. A morality play of sorts with a singular message, 'Just Trust Me' is performed by a sizeable cast of talented thespians of various ages who really look the part, avoiding the suspension of disbelief frequently required for student Fringe performers playing roles thirty years their senior.
Despite a couple of successful tongue-in-cheek pop culture references, this is primarily a historical play that explores the last lingering remnants of Victorian culture prior to the Great War. If the performance invites comparison to the audience's contemporary culture almost a century later, we arguably come out on top, as Laurence Bennett's trusting, patriarchal attitude is exposed as unable to cope with the reforms threatened by those such as the Suffragette movement, enveloping ever more of his female family members, and the younger generation of merciless capitalists represented by his ambitious assistant Albert.
This is a balanced hour that makes time for comedy and intense drama at regular intervals, the former being largely provided by comic relief characters whose inebriated states keep them on the convincing side of ridiculous. The ending is predictably dark but handled in an unexpected manner, and the dramatic irony present throughout as Florence Bennett learns of the conspiracy against her husband's estate draws further attention to the need for female empowerment, as Laurence refuses to let her speak her mind and she obediently, tragically complies.
'Just Trust Me' is a charming lunchtime show at an idyllic, tactfully hidden venue that achieves commendable originality in an oversaturated genre. Perhaps a little dark for children, this otherwise lacks a specific target audience, as the trials and tribulations of its lifelike characters will doubtless hold some appeal, regardless of your usual tolerance for period drama.