Fringe Online 2021
This is a post COVID futures commission between the National Theatre and the Royal Society of Edinburgh where one body is exposed to us. There are elements of it shown throughout the narrative, as the thirteen fragments explore their physical embodiment in the environment of a body. The experience is enhanced through bursts of poetry delivered with beauty. We go from concern, hope, despair and anger through sections which include references to Call it Scotland hibernation, resilience, spinning a web, I’m done, the chamber of echoes, in a dream if we were real, new expectations and culminating in the visual of hands and feet hung upside down. The poetry from Hannah Lavery weaves round these visuals which has cadence in its beauty as well as poignancy throughout.
This is a visual treat with words that flow from the screen and fill your mind with reflection. There is a point some two or three minutes in where I felt it flag a little, but it was but a fleeting moment. Then came the words sounding like the drip feed conscious thought of many of us who have had to survive something nobody ever thought would be possible – a global pandemic. The experience however of a woman of colour in Scotland in this short digital artwork, does speak beyond that experience and its power comes in touching the universal by speaking of the personal.
Lavery’s script is enhanced by the choreography of Natali McCleary and the slight movement in parts, the stop animation style in others made it flow and match where there was doubt. The white and black backgrounds particularly heightened the sense of focus and difference before we began to travel into more hope and the final images of the hands and feet pointing upwards left me with the feeling that as the world has been turned upside down so too have we found ourselves in a topsy, turvy world.
The soundscape was perfectly pitched with the inobtrusive music where we can hear its effect but not be overwhelmed by its presence. Thanks to Beldina Odenyo AKA Heir of the Cursed, we had a seamless combination of the aural, visual and narrative.
There was much to consider here and the script would do well to be published to allow us to enjoy the flow. As it is, the performance of Thirteen Fragments is very much one that makes you happy you decided to tune in and go with that imperfect disturbance that mirrors the flow of experience.