FringeReview Scotland 2014
A Moment’s Peace tells the story of women athletes in the Commonwealth Games that is presented through 16 women situated in a library as they unravel through episodes the stories of women who have managed to achieve their own Commonwealth bests.
We are brought into a performance space in traverse where a couple of women are working. One sits with her laptop and is clearly “in charge”. Once settled she begins the inquiry with her 15 compatriots of how women managed to become noticed from their humble beginnings in 1930 to the present date. The performance is structured through episodes of history that are curated through projection. We are then told of the derring do of the women involved in what went from being British Empire Games to the Commonwealth of today. An episodic structure intertwines stories with much physical theatre involved in the telling.
There is no doubting the heart, care and overall joy that is prevalent in this production. Hours of study unearthed worthwhile stories whilst much has gone into making this story performable. The structure that was chosen was, I think, a little flawed. I struggled to follow a narrative, if there was a narrative at all. It was not helped by the acoustics of the traverse which blocked some of the words. Using traverse was a bold statement but one that perhaps threw things too much of a curve ball.
The performers were hugely committed and their enthusiasm and abilities kept me focussed. It was clear that these are women who care. They care about the stories that they had gathered, cared about how they would be handled and cared about their performances. Some were very strong but as a collective they are known and as a collective they have grown though this.
The set was functional and with much to remind us of the setting of a library. It allowed us to credit the piece with an academic overview. This was quite an academic sweep and perhaps that is where it needed to stop. The theatricality of it, through words and the movement suggested that this was a lecture with moving about. We were to be more educated than entertained and this is where its faults tumbled out. I just wanted something more simple, focussed and to know more about one or two of the athletes. I was overloaded with more than that because of the gathering of material. It needed a ruthless dramaturg to come in and sift mercilessly.
The costumes – was there a fire sale on those dayglo trainers? – were spot on apart from anything that glowed in the dark whilst technically the use of projections was assured. Occasionally the sound from the speakers was distorted which can be a particular problem in traverse. On entering I caught none of the words from the speakers though this may have been deliberate.
This was definitely a worthwhile project but one that just needed better packaging. It needs some thought as to whether it should have all gone onstage or if it has a more academic or even filmic life after this run. Though it ends on the 27th July its legacy for the group and the stories I am sure will live on.