Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Tony needs to decide upon a toy to take, hurry up and get a move on. Between Princess Sparkle, Action Man and the robot he is spoiled for choice. From here we are given the physical embodiment of being spoiled. Spoiled by the macho man image of being a certain gender and refusing to cry when all around is going badly because big clouds don’t cry. We then witness the building of that suffocating manliness from the games of the playground to the issues of virginity and sex, booze and over drinking, before we get to the man up under thinking. This neatly becomes the poetry of allowing it all out into the clouds in the shape of a balloon to be let go…
There is quite an interesting context within this which is explored with deft enthusiasm. The four guys onstage embody four, fit, multicultural epitomes of what machismo should look like. They do not leak weakness. It lends the physical aspect of their piece such charm and also authenticity.
The narrative of the performance from the beginning of finding your feet through the various elements of growing up do have a piecemeal nature to them which could be enhanced and strengthened but they are obvious to us all. The lack of a traditional or studio theatre space is an indulgence as this would feel stronger, I think, with lights and the ability to follow/highlight certain movement. The movement work is very strong. Solo pieces in particular are full of the type of artistry you would associate with skilled artistes but are performed by strong men, being strong men. That it leads to a poem works fantastically well.
I loved aspects of this and could see it having a great deal of focus within a more theatrical setting especially as these four have such depth to their performances. They work incredibly well together, and that ensemble work is a particular highlight of the hour or so. You relax because you are in the hands, feet and boompsadaisies of a team that want to make it work and have the skills to make it work. It has a loose directorial style to it, which again, could be tightened, but is also I think that the discipline of hitting marks for lights and feeling that theatrical cloak makes it all a little short of utter perfection.
Having said that, it would be unfair in the pandemic Fringe which has found itself as much out as it has in, to be overly critical. When the balloon went up, I felt a joy in having sat and watched the toxicity of an upbringing being taken into the parable of life we should all understand – that rain and tears are always good for us.