Edinburgh Fringe 2019
A woman enters the stage from the left with a scarf like a shroud upon her face. Once the façade drops, we find ourselves in the presence of not one but three members of one family. Slowly, delicately the horror of a life that was lived by the child, is exposed as her father, a famous meteorologist is exposed. The full horror of what he did to the innocence of his daughter is stripped by the interactions between mother, father and daughter. Skillfully brought to the stage by Bartellini in a technically flawless performance of how one man, fighting for mother earth can destroy the female form in his own family.
Bartellini is an impressive presence onstage. Her performance brings you subtly into the performance as she draws the delicate relationships between each of the characters slowly and deliberately so that you get the issues; how each character has grown through it. The story is layered and the way in which Bartellini exposes the story is careful. The father being a prominent scientist who makes frequent television appearances has power to use and lose. The story, however, begins with the daughter bemoaning the issue of climate change; we soon see how it has her father in its grip.
Given that the author, the director and sole performer are one and the same person, separating each role would seem to be a difficult activity, however that may be a challenge worthy of this process. The script does manage to give us the whole person in each case. It has the nuances of each character’s personality as well as the fully formed characterization which gives each life; the point and counterpoints are obvious. At times we may wonder at the relevance of one part of the story but quickly that is taken on and developed to show once again the relationship between each of the character in front of us. Once the father disappears from the narrative, with a simple explanation which underpins the horror of his climax, we get direct address which draws everything together. It is a neat way of bringing the motions together.
In terms of acting, I did wonder about how the father would be developed into a real character and through a simple change of gait, Bartellini has it. Technically the performance uses all the presence of someone who knows not just her way around a stage, around a theatre and a story but also how to bring that expertise to an audience in a way that intrigues and appeals. The only thing missing for me is a more detailed examination element of how the daughter remembered – that fascinates me now as much as it did before the performance.
At times in terms of direction, I wondered if it needed a new eye. Being so close to the whole story I wondered if there were areas that were still in the shade that needed light. It is a minor observation but one that can be offered as the quality in front of us is able to take such criticism.
The stage is bare, with one stool which is used well. It requires nothing else as the words and the performance are all that is required in the hands of one who can visually draw as well as Bartellini.
Technical theatre arts are a soundscape and a lighting plan which augments the performance appropriately. I was particularly enamoured by the spotlight at the end. Using trickery sparingly can make things more poignant and that is certainly the case here. Given the nature of the Fringe it would however benefit from a fuller set of technical support.
I sat in the theatre in a presence that made me feel like I was part of something special. If you want to value performance and storytelling that refuses to take a linear approach but rather takes the story and works and weaves it around the issues concerned, then this is one you really must see.