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Edinburgh Fringe 2018


Focus Company/Chaliwate Company

Genre: Dance and Movement Theatre, Fringe Theatre, Puppetry, Theatre

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

It is 4am and three reporters are on a mission to shoot the latest news in a remote part of the world which is slowly disappearing – the Arctic. They take us on a van ride that begins with the first leg, on an arm – courtesy of a toy van on a performer’s arm – then progresses through a white set, placed on a table in front of us until we are transported to our three reporters inside that van. Before they arrive, we get plenty of slapstick before they start filming and we are taken onscreen to their personal tragedy. Their tragedy brings them to the attention of the wildlife who have a tragedy all of their and our own to communicate.


We enter the space to see one immobile artist onstage who then has a small toy van move across their body which is then taken on a journey across the table top set and along the body of each of the other artists in turn. Once the journey is established all three artists become the reporters in the van who are travelling on a bumpy road trying to share coffee and waffles whilst one also tries to smoke. Once at their destination they get out to film, the ice starts to crack and they fall. We get transferred to a video screen where an animal tries to get to them. We then return to the stage where that animal and her young are at peace until climate change takes one away from the other and we end with a cry for the world from the mother of all tragedies.

This is quality rather than quantity in a half hour of enchanting theatre and there is little doubt that theatre, here, is exploited to fantastic effect. The journey is just an incredibly comic set piece which, when we have all three in the van, is critical in drawing us into a place where what follows is surprising and very effective.

The narrative is well crafted with a clear sense of direction. Coupled with the clear abilities of superbly able comic performers we have the scene set and ready to explode. The use of the video is very clever and when the animal puppet is exposed it is the cutest of things – and the most dangerous.

The narrative is clever enough to make us forget that three people may have lost their lives as we observe that the animal has a child. That child plays until being left alone on a piece of ice and the cracks that heralded the loss of our reporters are repeated and the baby drifts off.

If there was ever a more poignant example of how theatre has the ability to draw you into a world where the issue is exposed in a more effective manner, it will take me some time to remember it. This was crystal clear and caught you right where it ought – teaching you that if we do not do something about climate change the world shall cast itself adrift. We shall end up being the reporters, the mother and the child and the combination of live work, recorded work and the use of puppetry and movement was as good as any.

Overall this short piece managed to do so much in such a short space of time that others would struggle to achieve with far longer time. I loved it, my young daughter who got dragged there enjoyed it and the message was received loud and very clear…


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