Edinburgh Fringe 2013
"What happens to his characters when an actor mysteriously disappears? Do they simply vanish into thin air or stand up and fight? The Vanish Inquisition is a hilarious new play about exactly that. Join Uncle Ted, Kenny Ricketts Jnr, Katia Kadrula and Rudy Babylon, four comedy misfits in search of their maker as they embark on a surreal and riotous journey of self- discovery, self-obsession and self-destruction!" This is a new play by award-winning playwright Philip Stokes.
The Vanish Inquisition by Horizon Arts is a totally brash piece of theatre. There is none of the usual whimsy familiar from other Fringe productions, none of the ‘oops and whoops, but never mind we’re terribly charming’. Richard Turner is on a mission to speak to us, a compulsion that explodes onto the stage portraying a menagerie of outrageous characters in this one-man show.
These characters are total megalomaniacs. The premise of the piece is that they are filling in for the absent Richard Turner, who is represented on stage by a cardboard cut-out of the artist. Each character had a reason as to why Turner was so important to them, a deep emotional connection. Each tale was performed with intensity, extreme physical motifs and striking costumes marking out each switch.
The stage was further inhabited by cardboard cut-outs of each of these characters, and the long costume changes deftly dealt with by providing voice-over snippets of each backstage character. As this structure repeated and the cast of characters grew the effect became more ghostly – echoes of each repeating in the memories of the audience – triggered by a glance at the life-sized effigies of Richard Turner’s creations.
Horizon Arts style is stark and slick, extremely physical with a crude script, berating the audience into nervous and delighted giggles.
This flagrant approach is clearly not for everyone; two audience members walked out half-way through. Such a shame as they missed one of the fullest and most resolved endings of this year’s Fringe. Surprisingly delicate after such an intense performance, a spotlight picked out Turner, finally himself after a complicated, choreographed fight with his inner characters.
The audience left satisfied, moved – given a precious insight into the wrestle of creativity and the schizophrenic oddity of calling forth monsters from within and dealing with their echoes pounding, following you through life.
Turner shows us how it feels to pour every ounce of energy into creating a character and then for that mask to vanish, but not quite completely.