Edinburgh Fringe 2011
A collaboration between a storyteller and a percussionist bringing us music-infused stories of earthly love and divine synchronicities.
This was a lively night of mythic storytelling from the mouth of Abbi Patrix, a half-Norwegian, half-French artist with a self-confessed love of interdisciplinary forms. He is accompanied on various percussion instruments, including marimba and vibraphone, by Linda Edsjo, a highly accomplished musician and composer from Norway. This highly effective fusion of original musical composition, story and song has music running through its entirety as the glue that holds it together, and the songs that come at the end of sections of story are like little celebrations and amplifications of the drama or lesson just unfolded.
We start our evening with a novel account of why it is that the man traditionally makes the first move in matters of courtship. We are taken right back to the creation with Adam and Eve created with closed eyelids, living separately in two huts, neither aware of the other’s existence. God wants to see what will unfold between them and so he covers the area between the two huts with dead leaves so that he will be able to hear if one of them crosses the divide. It is the woman who achieves use of the eyes first and cunningly crosses the divide by sprinkling water on the leaves so that they do not make a sound underfoot. It is the woman who is credited with intelligence and cunning, and the man as the inventor of the afternoon snooze. Quickly they realize on meeting what the subtle differences in their bodies are for and a night of passion ensues. They agree to meet again the next night but come the morning the man thinks “why wait?” and clumsily crosses the crunchy-leafed divide. Upon hearing the noise God proclaims that man shall make the first move forevermore. And so it is.
This sets us up for a whole evening of tales around the them of relationships and love in one form or another. One story of a chance meeting that never quite happens is told in instalments throughout the evening so as to keep the audience on tenterhooks waiting for a resolution. It is an excellent structural device in what would have otherwise been just a series of tales one after the other and adds a dimension of suspense throughout the evening. We are kept waiting in the meantime by equally interesting stories. One such story about the traditional and spiritual paths reminded me a lot of Joseph Campbell.
Both Patrix and Edsjo bring an infectious enthusiasm to their work. Patrix himself brings his whole body into the equation and there was always a sparkle in his eye, and always seemed as if he was right there in the middle of his described surroundings in the story. There was some excellent ensemble playing as Patrix played percussion along with Edsjo, whilst also reciting and improvising a story – which to me seemed a very impressive feat. Equally impressive and novel was a story accompanied by a glass and a bowl of water.
I felt, however, that a ‘concert’ was not the most ideal setting for storytelling of this kind. Sitting in my seat I felt distinctly uncomfortable, as though I wanted to be closer, be among the performers and to add this closer physical dimension to my experience of the storytelling. There was something tribal, shamanistic which did not sit well with me, sat in a seat indulging in the spectacle of performance. I imagined being in darkness sat around a fire where I felt that this style of storytelling originated and then I remembered a night I spent years ago in the middle of the outback of Australia hearing the stories of aboriginals. I wished I was transported there that evening along with the show as I felt a distinct lack of the proper environment and reverence.
A very memorable evening. I wish for more, but better I think surrounded by the elements or somewhere with less cultural baggage as a theatre or concert space.