FringeReview Scotland 2014
Daniel Padden wanted to know what it would be like to perform a musical piece whilst exploring that music and its relationship with physical movement. We now have the answer and it is a thoroughly engaging piece of theatre that runs for just over half an hour, keeping you enthralled as you try and guess what they will all do next!
The Rip It Up season has innovation at its heart and Padden does not disappoint. Although the idea of musicians trying to play music whilst moving around a performance space is hardly a new concept these 6 musicians bring an innovative gusto. They enter singly and begin with a musical motif that continues throughout the piece. What is new for me at least is that this bringing together of music and movement has seemingly no purpose apart from asking is it possible? As such its high art values free it from being tied to some form of narrative structure that just lets you enjoy both the music and the challenge. Having entered the stage all 6 musicians prove adept at all the instruments onstage until towards the end they each take their leave from us.
The music hardly seems overly complex or achingly simple and I have to say that had I sat through this as a concert I would not have necessarily asked for my money back. What was fascinating was how they managed to keep the thing going and to find a loose structure in which it all hung perfectly. I did think having the orchestra, when it was together play to each of the four corners both gave it structure and a bit of a straight jacket as you then realised there was something to follow rather than just getting lost within it. That structure had some set pieces that were familiar – all six round the piano at one point – whilst having the most inventive way of getting some moisture in yer gob half way through a performance I have EVER seen.
Set in Tramway 1 the audience entered and were asked if they wanted to stand or sit – I sat. The performance space was in the round with chalk marked on the floor. Around the chalk were all the instruments – familiar and not so familiar – from which the music sprung.
As we entered there was one of those Mexican bean type large metal balls clanging off bottles in the middle of the entrance to the performance space that saved paying royalties for an opening piece of music but it also set the mood perfectly. As it was a new piece with the word developmental tagged on Daniel came out to talk at the beginning and ask if we would like to stay behind to discuss at the end. It was a pity that happened and kind of spoiled the flow but it was also important that it happened; hardly anyone left at the end.
It was unfortunate because the performances were what stole it for me. I would not embarrass myself with giving a critique of the music or the musician’s ability to play – Mrs Kilmurray once told me to mime in the school choir – but I came to this to look at the performance. There was little by way of interchange between the musicians and little engagement with the audience and this would matter to me in a fully presented and rounded piece but here it matter not a jot. I felt part of this, willing the musicians to make it all work and never quite being sure what THAT was! I cannot find higher praise than that – they had me at the ball in amongst the bottles.
Where this goes, I don’t know but I would be front of the queue if it came back. It was charming, challenging, entertaining, artful and fun.