The Greatest Play in the History of the World (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 13, 2018 in Theatre

Writer: Ian Kershaw      Director: Raz Shaw


The script generously points out that the play’s title invites a two-word review. Can the writer mean “it isn’t”? Well true, it isn’t, but this charming piece of romantic whimsy from the husband and wife team of writer Ian Kershaw and actor Julie Hesmondhaigh is still worth a look.

The play is about loneliness, the Cosmos, shoes, Carl Sagan, two Toms and several Sara(h)s. It takes place at 4.40am one morning on Preston Road, somewhere in Northern England. Directed by Raz Shaw, Hesmondhaigh acts as narrator of the story and sole performer, with shelves stacked high with shoe boxes behind her. She takes down shoes to represent some of the characters in her story and she borrows shoes from the front row of the audience for others. She is so charismatic and warm that no one could ever dislike this production even if was rubbish. And it isn’t.

We hear of Tom, a 31-year-old bachelor who lives on one side of Preston Road and Sara, a single woman who does not believe in hurricanes and is just moving into a house on the opposite side. Tom is writing a play (guess what it is called); he is not the nosey type, but he cleans his front windows in a rhythmic motion an awful lot. The union of the pair seems written in the stars, maybe even literally. Beyond this, no more plot spoilers.

Kershaw’s style taps into the legacy of the late Victoria Wood, using the language of ordinary northerners and observing the minutiae of their lives. His humour does not quite have the sharpness to keep the play fresh for any more than its scheduled 70 minutes, but his imagination runs free.

Performance date: 7 August 2018

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub:




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