Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Glasgow based performance art ensemble recreate the last performance of Judy Garland singing Over the Rainbow.
(I Could Go On Singing) Over The Rainbow
The eyes have it. Garland’s eyes told you everything about the struggle of the human condition: the pain, the emotional fragility, the love – and her audiences demanded it over and over and over. FK Alexander and Glasgow-based noise band Okishima Island Tourist Association, recreate the last time Judy sang Over The Rainbow and repeats this devastating performance again and again and again. Groundhog day goes primal.
How uncomfortable it all feels, how voyeuristic and yet it is hard to look away. X marks the spot if you are eager to get your own personal rendition of this performance. Here Judy takes your hand and suddenly Garland is taking on the role of a healer. The love feels unconditional.
Over the course of this superb hour the piece becomes a meditation on the rituals and delivery that we might all repeatedly go through . The Okishima Island Tourist Association, provide a master-class in economy as they blast out the cacophonous soundtrack which bounces off the unforgivingly bleak walls of Summerhall’s subterranean depths.
We are free to walk around, view from all angles, but no one did, choosing instead to reflect on what was going on; and as those reflections develop I became aware that there was a fourth person in this show, Nick, front of house. He looks after us, offers us earplugs should we need them and gives us freedom to roam should we wish. I got the sense he was looking out for FK Alexander – for what must it be like for her to deliver at this intensity night after night? Channeling Garland is a big ask and she is in supreme form.
For some people this show will be too much and they will no doubt walk out, although nobody did the night I was there, and they were justly rewarded – for at the end there is gold. Peace at last for a troubled soul.
Not since the late, great Ian Smith’s ‘My Hands Are Dancing But My Heart Is Cold’ 2010, have I seen a piece at the Fringe that explores the nature of performance in such a profound way. Like the work of Station House Opera, Stuart Brisely, Carolee Schneemann, Genesis P-Orridge this collaboration will be talked about for years to come and send ripples through other genres. Talking of which, Chantel Akerman’s brutal film Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles comes to mind, another study of brutal enforced repetition that ends in a shocking death. Go.