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THE ROTTING HART [Edinburgh Fringe]

Written By:

Ed Fortune

by Ed Fortune

If you’re a fan of horror, you tend to be up for new and interesting challenges, and Daniel Orejon’s The Rotting Hart is certainly something novel. It’s a fantastic blend of history, lycanthropy, and doomed romance. It is remarkable, memorable, and strange in all the right ways. 

The show begins with a semi-naked man twitching and howling, our narrator for the show, performed by the show’s writer, Daniel Orjeon. It is 15th-century rural Spain, and our main character lives with his father near an abandoned monastery. He knows no one else. All this changes when Diego, a strapping young man, comes to visit. 

Our narrator doesn’t understand what he’s feeling and has no way of understanding or coping with what’s to come. Tragedy is inevitable. 

The script is thick and lyrical; it dives straight into bloody matters early on, and like any werewolf tale, body horror is front and centre. What’s impressive is that they are no effects here, just acting skills, good lighting and clever writing. It is thick with metaphor, but then that’s to be expected with this sort of tale.

The Rotting Hart is a strange brew of sources and inspiration. Historical queer horror with foreign language elements is quite the mix, but it works very well. Mostly this is down to Orejon’s performance, but the distance in time and the fact that some of the dialogue is in Spanish adds to the strangeness and claustrophobia of the piece. It lends a twisted, fairy-tale-like quality to a piece that already heads into The Company of Wolves territory early on.

The narrative is interspersed with bits of Spanish law relating to homosexuality. A translation sheet is provided for those who don’t speak it, but it’s easy to get the gist; the history of ignorance and hate is a long and sorry one. 

The Rotting Hart is a staggering show. This tragic story is both powerful and memorable and a must-see.


2023’s Edinburgh Fringe runs until August 28th. You can find out more about Rotting Hart and their future shows via their website.

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