So, I’m back from an intense 2-and-a-bit-days at the Edinburgh fringe where I manged to squeeze in 16 performances. This is just a quick blog talking through my favourite things that I saw this year.
Talkin’ bout my Generation
Cinage Lives’s Talkin’ Bout My Generation was a warm, heartfelt performance dipping into the real live stories and eccentricities of the elderly performers, along the way they spoke about patronising comments often received and the joys and struggles of growing older. References to politics and Brexit were curated with great attention and thought, allowing us to think deeper about the subjects and see them through the eyes of individuals rather than blanket statements. This performance is particularly brilliant because of the individuals involved, their wealth of knowledge and their frank, honest performances that simply showcased themselves and the incredibly interesting people they are. Statistics about age were repeated throughout the show cantering around facts that our population is becoming much older and soon there will be more aged over 65 than under the age of 15. This fact really resonated with me when, after the performance, none other than Richard Demarco himself referenced this fact. He went on to talk about how important this performance is and how important it is that theatre is being made for, with and by people of an older generation. That’s when it hit me that this isn’t about the past at all but this very much is the future of theatre.
I’m still letting that fact sink in days later and as a 24-year-old starting to make work in theatre, I can’t help but imagine the future landscape I’ll be helping to create. Before, I imagined working with young, cool, artistic rebels on the cusp of change, wanting to create something radically different – it was all rather punk in my head. However, after watching this older generation reflect on the past, present and future, I realise these are the young, cool, artistic rebels that I want to work with in the future. They are punk, they’ve lived through punk and in the near future they will be the ones changing the theatrical landscape again. This piece of work feels like a starting point to change, a quiet, softly spoken change - not quite a rallying-call but a growing whisper. It really has changed how I think in a small way and nothing can be more powerful than that.
Flight - Darkfield
Entering into the shipping container, we were greeted by the inside of an airplane and wearing headphones we were soon thrust into darkness and into a flight simulation like nothing else I have experienced. A clever, fun and thrilling 20 minutes that is, almost too, perfectly orchestrated.
What I talk about when I talk about Running - Det Andre Teatret
As I’m currently making a show on a treadmill, I just had to see this work from Norway’s Fredrik Høyer from Det Andre Teatret. It really didn’t disappoint. The performance from Fredrik really holds the show together and whilst being hilariously funny the performance is strangely deep. Fredrik talks at a thousand miles an hour and makes bizarre but accurate analogies as he goes. He really lets you in though and I think everyone will take away something different from this oddly profound, highly enjoyable gem.
A Fortunate Man – New Perspectives
A Fortunate Man by New Perspectives, written and directed by Michael Pinchbeck was beautifully cohesive, textured and filled with wonderfully interesting imagery. Having worked with Michael, he often talks about threads of performance – individual narratives, stories and images stringing together to create a rich multi layered theatrical weave. A Fortunate Man really demonstrates this, threads of narrative about country doctor John Sassall’s life are weaved together with the book by John Berger and the photography of Jean Mohr, another thread displays the NHS of today and at all its pressure, strains and wonderment. The performance is playful with theatrical motifs switching between the landscape and the portrait, dicing between lecture and performance. Everything in this performance is so neatly tied together – a simple story handled with great care and with such honesty to the source material it references. I was also given some toast during one scene, which was very needed, It’s almost as if the performers subliminally diagnosed my hunger and prescribed me with toast.
Status – Chris Thorpe and Rachel Chavkin
Having seen two other shows by Chris Thorpe, I half knew what to expect – a politically charged, charismatic and well put together speech. Status is my favourite one of his shows by far, the text seems more poetic, more charged, deeper, necessary. Fuelled by brilliant graphics in the background, the performance is sharp, clean and clinical. Dissecting notions of nationhood with a razor-sharp scalpel whilst not letting the bloody mess of Brexit spew out and stain everything is a difficult task but executed by Chris so brilliantly well.
We’ve Got Each Other – Paul O’Donnell
I first saw a 20-minute work in progress of this performance two years ago and was blown away by its brilliance then. Following the success of the show from afar, I couldn’t wait to see it in all its glory. It’s just brilliant. It’s accessible, fun and infectiously pulls you along. The genius of the show is it can be seen as a cynical view about watered down jukebox musical theatre being commercialised fodder for the masses. However, it can also be seen as a riot of spectacle that pokes fun at its source material whilst actually delivering pure entertainment. There really is something for everyone, at the end of show the woman who sat next to me actually thanked me for laughing so vocally as it made her feel more comfortable. Paul, though, is the one that makes everyone feel comfortable, he really holds the audience together and those who aren’t sure at the beginning are swept along and on their feet by the end. Bravo Paul – its utterly fabulous!
Another One - Maxim Storms & Lobke Leirens
We got up a bit earlier for this show but it was so worth it. It’s a fragile love story between two people whose complex emotions for each other are manifested in a physical display of hurt and tenderness. It’s difficult to describe why I loved this so much. It’s brave and unapologetic about what it’s presenting. There is such a varied and confusing display of emotion put in front of us that, whilst the performance is far-removed from a ‘normal’ depiction of life, in fact it becomes one of the most sincere depictions of human emotion I have seen on a stage.
The Ballad of the Apathetic Son and his Narcissistic Mother – 21Common
Having made a performance about Sia, with the brilliant Flora and the Machine, whilst at university, I was really interested to see what this performance was about. It turns out it’s not about Sia at all but actually about the complex but love-filled relationship of mother and son. It’s a beautiful piece that is honest to the narrative it wants to tell. The relationship between Lucy and her 15-year-old son Raedie is beautifully articulated with humour, warmth and the music and dancing of Sia. I loved it. The performance was really well handled and didn’t veer from the performance they wanted to make. Raedie’s performance was especially invigorating, it’s amazing to see a 15-year-old be so unapologetically themselves.
Other special mentions:
DICE festival was a fun concept for showcasing live art and I got to see a small glimpse of Tom Cassani’s new work which really was phenomenal. DollyWould by Sh!t theatre and Square Go by Keiran Hurley + Gary McNair were great fun and really well performed. Sit with Us for A Moment and Remember is a great break from the chaos of Edinburgh – it’s a five minute, tender breath that I just wanted to be longer.
It’s was an intense 2-and-a-bit-days but I’m really glad I got the chance to see so much work. Most of the work I saw was at Summerhall which really is proving itself as the place to be to watch exciting performance. I also bumped into loads of friends which was lovely and I just wish I had more time to have a drink with everyone!
‘Till next year Edinburgh…