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Edinburgh Fringe 2023


Projekt Vakuum (Switzerland)

Genre: Performance Art, Physical Theatre

Venue: C Aurora


Low Down

In the year 7100, and onstage we discover two remnants of a time gone by – ESSO and Shell. One has a tiger in their tank, the other exhorts getting on well with shell. Both get high on petrol and begin a fight before recognising they have much in common. By the end they decide upon a bonfire.


This takes a very avant garde approach to the current debate around fossil fuels and the conglomerates polluting our planet. It is a very clear attempt to try something different by pushing us to an edge and trying to engage through the use of movement, voiceover and slogans. At the beginning this did not work as well as the earnest approach that they clearly hoped would. It was a decent piece of theatre, but our performers are let down by a slackness in the direction which means it feels a little under rehearsed.
At time some of the movement – throwing themselves against the back curtains and wall – were a bit alarming, almost as if they were doing so because it was a good idea rather than the safe and well-rehearsed thing to do.
Whilst both are working exceptionally hard to encourage us at the start it takes a little time for their onstage performances to warm into each other and we begin to feel comfortable in the performances.
The voice overs seem to meander across time zones, and it appears that there are messages throughout, which can become a little lost as there appears to be a lack of structure – perhaps on purpose, given the subject matter and the view being promoted – being communicated to us. Chronological sequencing may hardly be new, but it does allow an audience to follow what is going on. Such a thematic approach really needed a better structure onstage to take advantage of how each disaster could then be included in the context of our two performers and their reactions.
By the mid-point I was beginning to struggle and then there appeared to be light brought into focus and both performers, now working alongside each other rather than barking the messages at each other appeared to have more of a reason to engage onstage. As a result, I became much more likely to engage. This grew and settled, and the ending was a good way to make the point.
It was also a production of mixed props. There were some nice costumes being used to signify corporate colours, but the sign of hell was just a little too kindergarten to be convincing. I came away from the production feeling as though I wanted to really like what I saw but was conflicted by the production values I witnessed. At its heart there are some very decent ideas and a concept with great merit, it just needs a bit of polish to bring it to its fore.