Mallory : Beyond Everest
Last year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe John Burns’ portrayed the famous George Mallory in Mallory: Beyond Everest. 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.
Dressed in 1920s Tweed clothing and using a minimum of props – wooden ice axe, hemp rope, blackboard – Burns 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. I enjoyed Burns’ creative use of his props; for example the blackboard used to show his expeditions 1921, 1922 and fateful 1924 expedition also becomes a railway track and a tent.
I found this a sombre act which lacked imagination in the story being told; there was not enough reminiscing describing the trip after his adventure of conquering Everest are 30 years gone. Instead, we were given a minor autobiography showing his quest for Everest torn between family life and promises he made to his wife.
There was not much description of the feeling of conquering Everest, I will admit that this was maybe due to somewhat playing with the audiences imagination but it did not leave me in awe of George Mallory, which I feel this act wanted too, and should have. I was full of anticipation for this show, but feel I only got a minor glimpse of this great man.
Reviewer : Richard Aitken