An Interrogation – Edinburgh Fringe 2023, Summerhall

Reviewer: Tom Ralphs

Writer: Jamie Armitage

Director: Jamie Armitage

An Interrogation is a police procedural brought to the stage. Set in the interview room of an unnamed police station, it has all of the classic tropes of a four part ITV mini-series. There is a cynical, overweight, old school male detective who is leaving the job of interviewing a potential suspect to the ideological young female rookie cop on her first big case.

It’s a missing persons case, and the missing person is a woman. She’s been missing for 68 hours as the play begins, and a message on the screen in the background informs us that the first 72 hours in such a case is crucial, so we know that the requirement for a ticking clock has also been met. Added in to this, the suspect, invited in for interview on a Sunday to avoid arousing any suspicion at his workplace, is a very respectable man with security clearance and Government contracts. He’s the sort of person we’d immediately suspect, if it wasn’t for the fact that we already know he must have done it and the only question in the play is will the detective be able to make him crack.

Bethan Cullinane plays detective Ruth Palmer, opposite Jamie Ballard as suspect Cameron Andrews. There is a good cat and mouse chemistry between the two of them as Andrews seeks to demonstrate what he believes to be his intellectual superiority and Palmer tries to find the gaps in his alibi that she can prise open. Once she has exhausted all the basic interrogation techniques, Palmer tries other psychological techniques to get a breakthrough, but Andrews is not merely protecting himself from the punches she is trying to land, he also has his own tactics to thwart her.

During a break in the interview, Palmers boss, John, played by John Macneill, re-enters to throw in another round of cop show Clichés, asking Palmer what she’s playing at and reminding her that time is running out and he might have to release Andrews, which leads in to the conclusion as Palmer raises her game further.

Frustratingly, having built up the tension so much and shown Andrews as clever, confident and manipulative, the eventual resolution is far too easy, and feels like an anti-climax compared to what has gone before. It’s a disappointing ending that doesn’t do either of the two main characters justice, but until that moment it’s a convincing psychological power play between two people with points to prove.

Runs until 27 August 2023 | Image: Contributed

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Police Procedural

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