Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2017


Rendered Retina

Genre: Devised, Physical Theatre, Theatre

Venue: Pleasance


Low Down

“We have all been bored, trapped in monotony. We have all dreamt of escape. Our minds construct fantastic worlds to break us out of routine, taking us to our own private paradise. But eventually we have to come back. We always have to come back. Form is a non-verbal, physical journey of escape and daydreaming, taking the audience on a stunning visual voyage through environments created out of tables, stationary and 20,000 paper balls. Three performers portray office workers happily oppressed by routine, except one.”


Devised by a young company, the story has such promise and begins well with the travails of the office routine starting with waking up. The crafting of the play seems padded out, especially in the second half but the physical theatre earlier works well. It’s one man’s journey to find more interesting things in his life, then it takes a dark elongated turn, which deflates the energy and direction after the first twenty minutes. There are some good ideas here but they need to be drilled down for more substance and intention.

A set of cardboard boxes, lots of paper and a desk are functional and versatile – and used in imaginative ways. After a while one of the three seems to have a fantasy about what his life could be, so he daydreams about surfing and other things that allow the office to transform into other locations. The other two employees show up at opportune times to save their friend from various challenges and help him get back on track. Perky and jazzy music selections accompany some of the physical moments.

In one scene office props are used effectively, and in another a mimed staircase routine is very good and is well developed. The performers work silently, mainly, but suddenly make gibberish grunts and loud exhales as a verbal communication at different times in the piece. It’s not clear why the sounds are there sometimes and others it’s silent – and this could benefit from making a consistent choice – whether to make these gibberish sounds, to stay silent or to use natural exhales and inflections.

A red piece of paper seems to be the key to the employee going off on his fantasy but it wasn’t clear why it was so important to be brought back at the end of the play. The scene on the boat was interesting and a good idea, but it needs to be severely edited to work within the show and to hold interest.

In all, there are some amusing moments and interesting imagery created with physical theatre and props. The company could revisit the crafting of the story for clarity and substance, and find more depth and contrast of characters.