Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Dallin turns 13 on the same day as Allison and they both have parties. Dallin’s basement and cake affair is no match for Allison’s pool party and dallin is condemned to celebrate alone. Even his dad is unable to be there so he is now in the basement trying to keep his mom from breaking in and “having fun”. He takes us on a journey which tells us all about his family and his dad where they hunt together and we see them on projections driving together until they shoot geese. Then a goose arrives to celebrate with Dallin and takes him flying with her. That flight ends in a tragedy or the hint of one that will transform Dallin forever.
This begins as a mono0logue as writer/performer Michael Yichao takes us on the narrative of a 13 year old who needs friends. From that premise he then explains his relationships within his family and why he is stuck downstairs. His interest in outer space is explored by some pretty good projections thus making him sound more and more of a geek. The relationship with his father is similarly explored and we get a better sense of a fairly together kid who happens to be a bit of a science geek. When a goose arrives in the shape of Sarah Shoemaker we set off on a flight of fancy that takes Dallin flying and seeing life from the Goose’s perspective. That is until he is shot by what might be a boy that is out with his father hunting. The discovery of the body mixes both the fantasy and reality of a shoot with his dad before he returns to begin his life as a teenager.
This was highly ponderous and much of it needed a good edit. There were sections that were repetitious but rather than wholly detract it reminded me that there was some good writing in here. There were elements of the piece that elevated it beyond the script and for that I was wholly grateful as Yichao should be too.
As a 13 year old boy you need to remember that you are 13 and the script should reflect that. Some of the writing was reminiscent of an older person. The ear ring should also be taken out of the top of the ear. Yichao though is an engaging stage presence and has a wonderfully lilting voice that carries poetry well. I could have listened to him for longer, had the script been his measure. Sarah Shoemaker livened things up with a fantastic goose. She had the movement right and the costume was used to great effect. Her movements underpinned the grace with which these birds fly making the end for her goose all the more tragic.
There was no set but the projections deserve a special mention. At all times they were well worth watching and the mixed cartoon/live action nature of some of it was enthralling. Unfortunately it did both sort and point out the weaknesses in the script but Rachel Park deserves credit as director for its usage whilst Suhyun Cho deserves credit for its creation.
I always enjoy Venue 13 and the relationship over 10 years with Cal Arts has been highly fruitful. I was however unsure as to whom this was pitched. It would not satisfy a young audience and the story of a 13 year old hardly excites adults so some thought into that would not go amiss. Once again I enjoyed my visit though I was left wishing that there had been more strength in depth here. But let me not be harsh here, there is the kernel of a story here that is both engaging and highly theatrical. I just needed there to be more substance to the script. Outside of that there was very little to complain about. Indeed the performances and the theatricality suggest that Cal Arts are once again a very useful addition to the Fringe programme
Overall therefore I would not be upset to go back and see more but I do think I would need to believe that cuts and alterations had been made. For Rachel Park, Michael Yichao, Suhyun Cho and Sarah Shoemaker this has been a truly useful exercise. I hope Yichao’s next piece, following his research in China is one we will also get to see – but perhaps let’s make it tighter.