Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Strange Face – Adventures with a Lost Nick Drake Recording
Venue: Laughing Horse @ Jekyll & Hyde
"Michael Burdett’s one-man show charts how he found a lost Nick Drake recording and chose to share it in an extraordinary way. Travelling across Britain with a camera, he asked strangers if they’d like to be among the first people to hear the recording in 30 years. Among the farmers, scientists, and mountaineers are some famous faces including Paul Whitehouse, Martin Freeman, Ross Noble and Billy Bragg. Their stories are often funny, surprising and touching, as people share so much more than their thoughts about the recording."
The place to be – yes, the place to be at the Free Fringe was the Jekyll and Hyde Pub, spending an hour in the company of Michael Burdett. You see, Michael found a recording and, unless you are very lucky, you are unlikely to ever hear it.
This is a story. It’s a story about Nick Drake, elusive and now legendary musician. Drake made only three albums before committing suicide. Drake’s music affects people, often profoundly. And Burdett has captured those effects in photographs taken on a journey to every county in the UK – photos of ordinary and extraordinary people wearing headphones, listening to this "lost" Nick Drake recording of Cello Song.
Who can know the thoughts of other people? Well, Michael Burdett has tried to do just that through his journey around the country. What he presents us with are the thoughts and feelings, the reactions to a piece of music of humans with a shared experience of that one piece of music.These people may never meet each other, but that music is now their shared experience.
This is a unique show, told with passion and accomplishment by our storyteller, a composer and musican himself who knows how to deliver a tale with ease, humour and informality. Staging is simple, with a screen behind showing us the images and a few more thoughts as well. The story is well worth listening to, whether you are a Nick Drake fan or not. At no point do we get a decent dose of Drake’s music. And that’s a bit of genius, because the show makes you want to play something by Drake as soon as possible after the show, whether you are a fan or, as yet, one of the unitintiated!
In places, I felt that our host was a bit too reliant on the laptop which he kept leaning over. The laptop would be better placed somewhere more easy for him to see, or he should learn the whole show as a script.
Apart from that quibble, here we have a touching, wholly engaging, informally funny and accessible hour in the company of a man who has a story to tell, and who infects us with his passion. It’s an interesting tale, well crafted, diving into deeper themes, never cheesy, and often witty and sharp.
You can say the sun is shining if you really want to
I can see the moon and it seems so clear
You can take the road that takes you
to the stars now
I can take a road that’ll see me through
Michael Burdett takes us on a road that feels full of sunshine. That is because this is ultimately an uplifting tale.