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70 minutes with one actor: no props, no sound kit, no supporting acts. Watching Evil was like listening to an unaccompanied vocalist; the performance is carried along by the sheer talent of the solo performer, who completely owns the stage and every single mind in the audience throughout the length of this bildungsroman.

Set in 1950s Sweden, and based on a true story by Jan Guillou, we follow a teenage boy who is regularly bullied and beaten up by his father. Inevitably, psychological scars result from the years of abuse, setting the scene for what we fear must be later disaster. The plot follows the boy to boarding school, focussing on his character as he makes friends, gets into trouble, and uses violence as a self-defence mechanism – even though his dream is, understandably, one day to become a defence lawyer.

Jesper Arin’s performance is compelling, and he has complete mastery of his domain. The script is filled with powerful lines, especially when you consider that this is based on a true story: “Please, father, don’t hit my face… I have school tomorrow.” The direction is clever too, including an unusual technique for portraying a dialogue between two characters: Arin faces the audience as the protagonist, and turns his back when it is the other character speaking. Together with excellent use of accents to delineate his roles, it makes the dialogue intuitive and easy to follow.

At times the plot is a bit predictable, but that’s perhaps to be expected from this peek into the horrible reality that many young boys faced – when “you might use violence to escape from violence,” as our protagonist says rather too wryly. With a central New Town venue and an ideal evening slot, there’s no excuse for missing this fantastic, haunting tale of coming of age.

Reviewer: Udita Banerjee
Reviewed: 15th August 2016

4.6 Stars

Evil is nobody’s idea of a fun day out at the theatre. It’s an emotionally demanding piece.

A searing monologue, adapted by Benny Haag from a novel by Jan Guillou, it’s brilliantly performed by Jesper Arin. It’s the story of Erik, a young Swedish boy who has been systematically brutalised by his father (‘the old man’ as Erik habitually refers to him), ritually beaten on an everyday basis. When the chance finally comes for him to escape to a prestigious boarding school, Erik jumps at the chance; but it isn’t long before he realises that the institution – Stjarnhov near Stockholm – is every bit as vicious as the place from which he has recently fled.

Arin is a compelling actor – he lays out the story in a cool, matter-of-fact tone, never flinching from detail, drawing us completely into the narrative. Perhaps it’s the fact that I had a school background that was horribly similar to the events outlined here, that made this story so personally affecting; or perhaps its simply that it’s so beautifully written, it would have the same affect on just about anyone. Whatever the case, this is a remarkable piece of storytelling that deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.

Just don’t expect to come out laughing…

Reviewer: Philip Caveney
Reviewed: 13th August 2016
4/6 Stars

Jesper Arin / Teateri


Evil @spotlites @edfringe

book tickets for edinburgh fringe festival

Thurs 4th - Sat 20th August 2016

5:00pm (1 hour 10 mins)

From Sweden

Twenty years ago Erik was sent off to a prestigious boarding school.
Free from an abusive past, with a new best friend, he dreamt of starting anew.
After last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe sell-out show Beethoven in Stalingrad, Arin is back with critically acclaimed show Evil, based on the award-winning bestseller by Jan Guillou.

'This is a masterclass in art of storytelling... distressing... gripping... riveting' ***** (
'The play refuses to simplify... leaving us uncomfortably pondering the questions it raises and wondering about the evil lurking in all of us' ***** (ThreeWeeks)

Evil @spotlites @edfringe

Performer's website



£9 (£7 Concession)

Group discount: 10% off for groups of 10+
2for1 on Mon 8th & Tues 9th

Friends of Fringe: 2 for 1 anytime – only available from Fringe Box Office

book tickets for edinburgh fringe festival


Venue 278. 22-26 George Street. EH2 2EP
Venue Box Office: 0131 240 2784

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