Edinburgh Fringe 2018
One woman crosses a dessert on a glass topped light box. Once she has left there are six young acrobats thrown onstage and they take their time to enliven themselves before they then take to the stage with feats of strength, circus, dance and creative energy which allows all 7 an opportunity to show conflict between them.
There are sequences to this which draw you into the performance whilst what overall there are times when you feel a bit lost. I kind of get where the narrative would like to go but, to an extent, I was in love with the spectacle so much that I just got lost in amongst it.
Set pieces included handstands on one hand, the battle of the jugglers and the finale with the ladder which brought gasps but helped to knit the whole thing together. I truly loved it from the haunting use of music that comes from their heritage – they are from Eastern Europe and I believe that the music is Tatar/Moldovan – to the feats of skill and connections they make between themselves. The movement and the music was blended in such an effective way that when they moved as one it was as one you saw them.
It haunts and delights in equal measure. I was transfixed for most of it and the circus skill aside this was presented as a theatrical piece and it is therefore as one that I must judge it. For the most part it was not found wanting. Their understanding of a stage and how they are able to use their abilities to hold our attention are wholly impressive. Their confidence in their own abilities honed by having to trust their colleagues aside they have a theatrical ability many actors would do well to study. It is their strength in stillness that delights most.
I loved the fact that the sole woman was far from decorative and gave an equally impressive and strong performance on the back and front of the contortionist. This showed she equally had the theatrical bug well bitten.
The set pieces were each of an equal theatrical flair, but the ladder will live longest because it was truly led to the feeling that this should not be happening… it is simply not possible… And yet it is…
Had this been performed with a more obvious narrative I would have been happier, but I think this is a minor point and one which I am happy to debate – mainly with myself because nobody in the audience cared a fig; they loved it.
The production was beautifully illuminated with lighting effects that were as dramatic and apt as the set pieces. We got a light box that shone through the floor giving shafts of light to each act and they used these beautifully when they removed the sand. This was particularly true when isolating the young woman whilst the men literally took the sand away; there were many metaphors in my mind.
To have had such an impressive set should also be a learning point for many of those coming to the Fringe as it gave this piece some context. It gave it a platform but was also a participant and the lights were used to heighten the drama. I just yearned for a storyline on which to hang my head as I drew my tongue back into it.
Overall My Land was jaw droppingly good with an excellent theatrical sense of itself that may not be as good as its 2017 hit but second performances can often be difficult to love as much as the first that drew your attention to the artists.