Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Calarts Festival Theater present a journey through the rubbish with a character played wonderfully by Aleshea Harris, supported by musician Ngaire Young as we travel through a life amongst the rubbish tips to hear how a chance encounter with the Rope Haired Man’s performance leads Oddlie to liberation and an understanding of sorts through the sage, Sasha.
Oddlie is an odd character. She arrives onstage to delve through the rubbish until she finds herself spellbound in the presence and poetic performance of the Rope Haired Man. Trying to find her own voice she attempts the same as the Rope Haired Man until having failed twice and being heckled by notes thrown at her she comes across Sasha. Sasha, similarly disposed and desperate, tutors the young girl to achieve the poetry through her voice and writing. Sasha gives her the most precious gift that can be given in their world – clean paper. There are three tests to be taken but before the final one is complete Sasha is found searching for the bundle she used to keep under her arms and to whom she constantly sings.
This is poetry full of joy and despair. The twin masks of this production sing in harmony to give you the overwhelming feeling that you have been lulled in a lullaby that is tragic and yet rocks you gently towards slumber. Aleshea’s performance was exceptional. Her moving from one character to another effortless and the physicality of each clearly marked and given certain focus that I was reminded of Alan Cumming’s recent one man Macbeth and how he marked each character with a gesture for us to follow. I found this, though much more compelling as it was a new story. Sasha ends up digging at the spot Oddlie lives looking for what we assume was her daughter. As Oddlie’s presence is never explained we can make a connection that may be right but perhaps is not. Whilst I wanted so much to know if there was a connection between Sasha and Oddlie and I am glad that was never explained.
The set was rubbish; literally. The backdrop a fitting stretched fabric filled with gaping holes through which nothing entered save Oddlie and nothing left. The soundscape was a perfect foil for the piece and the number of instruments used gave you the feeling that care and joy were present in equal measure. The empty bottle as much an equal part as the more traditional and recognisable instruments used.
The only issue that I had with the whole event was the pace. At times slightly ponderous it did start to be come soporific and I was struggling at times to keep myself from giving in to the gentle lullaby.
This is the second year that I have made the effort to meander down to venue 13. It is the second year I have been delighted with the results of my meanderings. The venue has provided me on each occasion with American performances that have captured the essence of new work and just being on the Fringe. With Oddlie I was delighted with the feeling of it being experimental, unsafe and trying to be original. If you have not already done so be an original yourself and seek out the venue and the performances here. It will be well worth it.