Edinburgh Fringe 2018
The stage is set with a Tepee and a set of two chairs and a table. Two people enter, one male, one female. They begin a series of physical movements that seem disconnected but connected through their jerks and ticks which seem to suggest they have a problem with communication and other people. Eventually they connect and come out of the gloom into a series of set pieces that involve face slapping, throwing one against a wall, a card game where one always wins before they disappear to re enter dressed as if they have come from a time of primitive thought and action. One brings a dead bird, the other eats it. They disappear and return to finish in a game of breathing.
There is clear and obvious skill here which is impressive. The ability to hold silence and the audience throughout this piece makes the connections between them and the audience better than you would expect but there is a serious disconnect at times; a number of people decided it was too much for them and walked out though at one point the walk out was added into the reactions onstage. That showed a glimpse of the understanding the performer had for interaction. It kept me watching.
The narrative may have wandered from the relationship between the two in a Beckettian way but there was a clear and present relationship between them which strengthened the piece. It made their situations slightly clearer though we still had a bit of a struggle when they started assaulting each other. That discomfort was unpalatable and a couple of gasps – not in a good way – meant that this was effective in getting an audience to interact whilst the point of that interaction still seemed to be grasping for a meaning.
I could see how awkward people with awkward social interaction might cry out form their seats that this is exactly how they feel and the skill of each of the performers was to give voice to those unable to effectively use their own.
Technically the performances were jaw droppingly good. The direction was clear and the use of lighting, in particular, made a lot of sense. The lighting, for example washed the distance between them and their use of the stage was used in a way that made things a little clearer.
The set baffled me. The tepee, all the way from Belgium I presume, sat in a corner. Behind it they changed into and out of their primitive costumes but I was unable to really work out its significance. I wondered if it was there to connect them to American Indians. I am no expert in the head dresses of various tribes but anchoring the backdrop to something that can be associated with a particular tribe seemed odd. Was it everyman or was it a definitive swipe at one particular breed? Did it help us to place the context for the set piece of eating a raw bird – a prop? Not particularly.
Overall, I found this intrigued me and also left me a little distant. On reflection this may have been the point as the performance gave me lot to ponder, much to consider and a confusion that may simply have been the message.